Don’t Leave Oil Spill Victims Stranded Without Drinking Water


Target: Julio E. Rios III, President and CEO, Director Bridger Group, LLC

Goal: Compensate victims of a disastrous oil spill by providing them with clean drinking water.

A ruptured pipeline spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil into and around the Yellowstone River in Eastern Montana on January 17th. Nearby residents are awaiting official reports on the contamination of water sources, but residents have already claimed to have found evidence of oil in their tap water. Since history has shown that companies are slow to react and recompense affected communities after oil spills, let’s demand that the owner of the pipeline, Bridger Pipeline LLC, pledge to immediately provide clean drinking water for the affected residents.

About nine miles upstream from Glendive, Montana, a 12-inch steel pipe in the company’s Poplar Pipeline system ruptured early on January 17th, spilling 1,200 barrels of Bakken shale crude oil into the surrounding area. The initial environmental impact of the spill may be reduced given that much of the area is frozen over. Nevertheless, oil has been reported as far as 25 miles downstream from Glendive, some of which is trapped under the ice, possibly making the cleanup efforts more difficult.

Initial testing of the local municipal water systems have not be concluded. The Dawson County Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator, Mary Jo Gehnert, said, “I am not saying the water is unsafe. I am not saying it is safe. We are waiting for officials to arrive who can make that decision.” Meanwhile, Glendive residents have reported tasting and smelling oil in their drinking water. The pipeline was quickly shut-off after alerts of the rupture, but 50,000 gallons of crude oil will still damage the ecosystem and leave many residents with drinking water of uncertain quality.

In July 2011, ExxonMobil Corp. released 63,000 gallons of oil along the Yellowstone River and a settlement is still pending. This drawn-out ordeal foreshadows the future dispute between Glendive residents and Bridger Pipeline LLC. Because of this, it is appropriate to call on the company to provide immediate relief in the form of drinking water to the affected communities.


Dear President Rios,

I commend your company Bridger Pipeline on the swift actions taken after notice of a rupture in the Poplar Pipeline system. The relative lack of delay and minimization of damage is a welcome aspect of this specific oil-spill story. However, many residents might be left with tainted drinking water. I believe it would minimize the outrage over this story and possibly lessen the overall fines if you were to take action by providing clean water for those who have been affected.

Having yet to receive compensation from a 63,000 gallon spill in 2011, Montana residents are all too aware of the delays in the legal system. In light of this, the affected residents deserve some form of immediate compensation. I believe it is appropriate and a sign of good business practice that you facilitate the dispersal of clean drinking water to all affected residents immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Casey Page via Billings Gazette

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