State of Montana

GAO urges congressional action to maintain oil spill response fund

A fund that helps pays for federal oil spill responses faces uncertainty because one of its revenue streams is about to expire and it is limited in the amounts it can recover from parties responsible for accidents, a government watchdog warns in a report that urges Congress to take action.

The Government Accountability Office, in a report prepared for House and Senate committee leaders, examined the National Pollution Funds Center’s disbursement of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, used to pay for oil removal, damage assessments, damage claims and research in the wake of spills.

Environmental groups appeal $225 million Exxon settlement

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Four environmental groups want an appeals court to let them intervene in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil over contaminated sites across the state.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said Monday the groups are seeking additional natural resources damages.

Months before oil spill, signs of poor record-keeping found

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The pipeline company responsible for an oil spill that blackened California beaches kept shoddy records on emergency training and how it would protect pristine coastline in the event of a break, federal regulators said Friday.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed six violations from inspections begun in 2013 — some 20 months before the May pipeline rupture near Santa Barbara — but imposed no fines.


North Dakota oil spill cleanup slowed by lack of natural gas

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The cleanup of a massive 2013 oil spill in northwestern North Dakota is being hampered by a lack of natural gas needed to power special equipment that cooks hydrocarbons from crude-soaked soil, a state regulator said.

Crews have been working around-the-clock to deal with the Tesoro Corp. pipeline break that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of oil into a Tioga wheat field two years ago this month.


Scientists link oil exposure to reduced survival of fish

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Federal scientists have determined that extremely low levels of crude oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez caused heart problems in embryonic fish, a conclusion that could shape how damage is assessed in other major spills.

In a study published Tuesday in the online journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that embryonic herring and salmon exposed to low levels of crude oil developed misshapen hearts.


Scientists link oil exposure to reduced survival of fish

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — New federal research shows that embryonic salmon and herring exposed to very low levels of crude oil can develop heart defects that hurt their chances for survival.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists say their conclusion could explain why herring and pink salmon populations in Prince William Sound declined after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.


States rarely punish companies for oil wastewater spills

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — In April 2013, a malfunctioning oil well in the countryside north of Oklahoma City caused storage tanks to overflow, sending 42,000 gallons of briny wastewater hurtling over a dike, across a wheat field and into a farm pond.

State regulators ordered the oil company to clean up as much of the spill as possible and repair the site. But they didn't impose fines or other punishment against Moore Petroleum Investment Corp., a tiny company in Norman that operates only a few wells.

Questions and answers about damaging oilfield wastewater

As U.S. oil and gas production increased this past decade, so, too, did spills of salty oilfield wastewater that can foul the land, kill wildlife and threaten freshwater supplies. An Associated Press analysis of 11 states found more than 180 million gallons of wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014. Questions and answers about this damaging byproduct of energy production:


Oilfield wastewater is the fluid that comes to the surface when oil and gas are pumped out of the earth. Some is salty residue from ancient seas in underground rock formations. The rest is fresh water that was mixed with chemicals and sand and injected underground to crack open subterranean rock, the drilling process known as "fracking." The industry usually calls the liquid waste "produced water," but other common terms include brine, saltwater and flowback.


Stretch of Mississippi River in Ky. reopens after oil spill

COLUMBUS, Ky. (AP) — A 17-mile stretch of Mississippi River in Kentucky has reopened with restrictions after it was closed following a collision between two tow boats that spilled more than 120,000 gallons of oil into the waterway, the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.

The Coast Guard had closed the Mississippi from mile markers 939 to 922 after Wednesday evening's collision near Columbus, Kentucky, damaged at least one barge carrying slurry oil. Officials said the cargo tank ruptured, causing tens of thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the river.


Clean up crews to go into Mississippi River after oil spill

COLUMBUS, Ky. (AP) — Clean up crews planned to go into the Mississippi River on Friday in Kentucky after a collision between two tow boats caused an oil spill that prompted the closure of that part of the river.

The collision Wednesday evening near Columbus, Kentucky, damaged at least one barge carrying clarified slurry oil. The cargo tank ruptured, causing thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the river, the U.S. Coast Guard said.


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