From MSNBC.com:

An ExxonMobil pipeline that runs under the Yellowstone River near Billings in south-central Montana ruptured and dumped up to 1,000 barrels of oil, fouling the riverbank and forcing water intakes downstream to be closed.

Company spokeswoman Pam Malek said the pipe broke about 11:30 p.m. Friday and leaked for about a half-hour.

The cause of the rupture in the pipe carrying crude oil from Belfry, Mont., to the company’s refinery in Billings wasn’t known. But Duane Winslow, disaster and emergency services coordinator for Yellowstone County, told NBC station KULR8 that erosion from high water this spring likely played a role.

Brent Peters, the fire chief for the city of Laurel about 12 miles east of Billings, said the break in the 12-inch diameter pipe occurred about a mile south of Laurel. Crews shut down the pipeline about half an hour later.

Peters said about 140 people were evacuated starting about 12:15 a.m. Saturday due to concerns about possible explosions and the overpowering fumes. All were allowed to return after instruments showed fumes had decreased. He said more evacuations occurred farther downstream outside his district.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. Max Baucus called for a swift cleanup.

In a statement Saturday, ExxonMobil said it was sending its North American Regional Response Team to the area to help with cleanup work, and that state and federal authorities had been alerted to the spill from the pipe belonging to the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company.

The company “deeply regrets this release and is working hard with local emergency authorities to mitigate the impacts of this release on the surrounding communities and to the environment,” the statement said.

More.

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