Up to 50,000 gallons of oil may have been released into the Yellowstone River in Montana when a 12-inch pipeline ruptured on Saturday, reports say. (For comparison: The infamous 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska involved 11 million gallons.) The pipeline carries oil extracted from the Bakken formation, which in recent years has been the site of a fracking-driven boom that has contributed to the drastic drop in gas prices.
A similar spill in 2011 cost an estimated $135 million to clean up; one Montana activist and landowner has already said the new spill is a reminder of the potential hazards of the long-pending Keystone XL pipeline. Some local residents have been told not to drink tap water for the time being, and Montana’s governor has declared a state of emergency.
The rupture occurred near the town of Glendive, which is several hundred miles away, and downriver, from Yellowstone National Park.