Indian reservation

Oil spill reported on Crow Indian Reservation

An oil spill of unknown size and duration was reported on the Crow Indian Reservation.

Richard Mylott, a spokesperson for Region 8 for the Environmental Protection Agency, said he understood the spill was from a gathering line, a pipeline used to transport crude oil from a wellhead to a wellhead. a central collection point. Gathering lines generally carry a lower volume of oil than transmission lines. He said there are currently no known impacts or threats to surface waters.

“The EPA will continue to monitor the reports and respond to any request or need for assistance,” he said.

According to DrillingEdge, which compiles information on oil and gas wells, Soap Creek Associates, Inc., has 31 operational wells in the area of ​​the reported spill. These wells produced 3,100 barrels of oil last January.

Montana Free Press first learned of the spill through communication with Richard White Clay, who has been active with the Crow Allottee Association, an organization that advocates for landowners on the Crow reservation. He said another member of the association with a subdivision near Soap Creek reported the spill to him.

“They found an oil spill in their stream and they sent photos,” he said.

The National Pipeline Mapping System lists an incident involving hazardous liquid material on the Crow Reserve between Fort Smith and Lodge Grass. Credit: National pipeline mapping system

The National Pipeline Mapping System shows that there was an incident involving a pipeline carrying hazardous liquid between Lodge Grass and Fort Smith. According to the NPMS, four pipeline operators monitor pipelines in Big Horn County: Cenex Pipeline, LLC; WBI Power Transmission, Inc .; North West Society; and Phillips 66 Pipeline, LLC. It is not known whether any of these companies are operating the collection line that is believed to be the source of the spill.

In an email to the MTFP on Tuesday morning, Clifford Serawop, superintendent of the Crow agency office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said BIA land staff would respond to the incident.

“Even though this is allocated land, it is still land held in trust, so we want to make sure we take care of it,” Serawop said.

Allocated land transfers ownership to a landowner with restrictions on its transfer and use. The land is held in trust for tribal members by the federal government.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Moira Davin said DEQ was aware of the spill, but was not acting as the person responsible for the response.

“It looks like the EPA and the reservations staff will be primarily responsible,” she said.

Emails to the Crow Tribe media account and calls to Vernon Hill, who works with the tribe’s Disaster Emergency Services division, were not returned Wednesday morning.

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