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Traces Of Oil Found In Montana Town's Water Supply After Spill

A warning sign shows the location of a 12-inch oil pipeline owned by Bridger Pipeline Co. that spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude along the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Mont.

Officials in Montana say they have detected traces of oil in the water supply of the town of Glendive, days after up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled from a break in a pipeline along the Yellowstone River.

NPR's Kirk Siegler is reporting on the story for our Newscast unit. He says:

"The EPA and other emergency responders are having bottled water shipped to ... Glendive. Preliminary tests have indicated that some traces of oil have entered Glendive's water supply. There have been no reports yet of injuries, but the damage assessment is ongoing and everything is being hampered by the fact that parts of the Yellowstone River are frozen this time of the year."

Elevated levels of benzene, a cancer-causing compound, were found in samples taken from a water treatment plant that serves the community of about 6,000 people.

Dawson County, Mont., in a statement on its website said, "While the elevated levels are above the level for long-term consumption, the scientists who reviewed the data at the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] have told the Unified Command that they 'do not see that domestic use of this water poses a short term public health hazard.' "

The pipeline is owned by Bridger Pipeline Co. of Wyoming, which says it has no timeline to reopen the pipeline.

Reuters reports that the pipeline is part of the 42,000 barrel-per-day Poplar pipeline system that carries crude oil from producers in eastern Montana and North Dakota.

Saturday's spill is the second involving the Yellowstone River since 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline broke in July 2011, sending 63,000 gallons of oil into the river.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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