Exxon Mobil Spill Worsened When Employees Delayed Action

The 2011 spill increased by 1,000 barrels after employees waited 46 minutes to close all valves.

A new probe into the 2011 Exxon Mobil oil spill in Yellowstone River shows that the company’s delay in taking action worsened the accident’s consequences. Wednesday, federal investigators released a report showing that 1,000 extra barrels of oil spilled due to a slow response time.

In July 2011, Exxon Mobil’s Silvertip pipeline, below a Montana river ruptured, spilling an estimated $135 million worth of oil into that river, spreading into Yellowstone River. When employees discovered a drop in pressure, they closed some valves on the pipeline, but waited 46 minutes to close the rest. The size of the spill was increased by two-thirds.

If the valves had been closed immediately, according to the report conducted by the Department of Transportation, only 500 barrels would have been spilled, as opposed to the 1,500 barrels released.

Another issue brought to light in the report is the depth of the pipes in the ground. The pipes were just four to five feet below the riverbed, the minimum allowed depth. Experts say that this depth is too shallow.

The DOT is still evaluating the incident to determine is Exxon Mobil will face repercussions.

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    July/August 2019

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