Ice Hampers Cleanup in Yellowstone's Rare Winter Oil Spill
The effort offers cautionary tales for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and for Arctic drilling.
GLENDIVE, Montana—On a muddy bluff overlooking the Yellowstone River, Paul Peronard watched as workers tried to mop up oil through holes drilled into the frozen surface. Nearby, a whirring vacuum truck held crude from the first serious U.S. spill into icy water in a quarter-century.
The week had begun sunny and unseasonably mild. Peronard, the Environmental Protection Agency's on-scene coordinator, asked for an update. The response: Ice was melting upstream, adding to the cleanup's danger.
"Oh," Peronard winced. "Don't tell me that."
The Poplar pipeline's 31,000-gallon spill on January 17, about nine miles south of here, is a rare test of the capacity to respond to oil accidents in frozen water. Its cleanup progresses as the U.S. Senate voted Thursday