Bridger Pipeline Company Tuesday opened a claims center in Glendive for people affected by the January 17 break of their pipeline that spilled an estimated 28,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone river.
"That’s why we have the claim center set up, so businesses, residents and even local governments that have incurred added expense, because of this incident, which we’ve taken responsibility for, that we can reimburse them for those expenses," said Bridger Pipeline spokesman Bill Salvin.
Salvin didn’t offer an estimate for how much Bridger Pipeline might have to pay out in claims, or how much the clean-up may ultimately cost. He says clean-up operations are temporarily on hold until ice on the river breaks up, because efforts to remove oil from the river while its frozen haven’t been bearing good results.
About 25 people remain on-site to watch for oil-damaged wildlife and respond to any crude seen on the river.
That's down from a peak of about 125 people during the initial response.
Salvin says warmer temperatures last week gave clean-up crews a “sweet spot” allowing them to pull several hundred gallons of oil from the river.
"Since we’re not quite in that sweet spot right now, it just puts us in a spot where there’s simply no recoverable oil to go out and get."
Less than 10 percent of the oil that spilled into the river has been recovered and it's uncertain if that amount will significantly increase.
The cause of the accident, which made Glendive's tap water un-drinkable for five days,remains under investigation.