SHARE
Image courtesy of the Montana Department of Justice.

ExxonMobil has agreed to pay $12 million in damages related to a 2011 pipeline spill in Montana.

The Montana Department of Justice said that ExxonMobil Pipeline Company has agreed to pay $12 million in natural resource damages to the federal government and the state of Montana as trustees for the natural resources affected by the spill.

The agreement was reached between the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, Montana governor Steve Bullock, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

A proposed consent decree was filed in federal court on Wednesday.

The state and federal governments have also issued a draft restoration plan that will take action to address the natural resource damage.

The settlement will resolve claims stemming from the 2011 oil spill, the Montana Department of Justice.

Fox said the settlement funds will be used “to restore and improve the environmental and recreational resources of this great river.”

The spill occurred on July 1, 2011 when the a 12-inch diameter Silvertip Pipeline ruptured near Laurel, Montana and caused a discharge of crude oil into the Yellowstone River and floodplain.

The discharge is estimated to have released about 63,000 gallons, or about 1,500 barrels, of oil.

The Silvertip Pipeline is owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Company.

The discharge occurred during a high-flow event, affecting about 85 river miles and associated floodplain.

“Oil from the spill, along with the cleanup activities, harmed natural resources including fish and other aquatic life, birds (including migratory birds), wildlife, large woody debris piles, aquatic habitat, terrestrial habitat, recreational use, and the services provided by these natural resources,” the Montana Department of Justice said.

The public natural resources impacted by the release are under trusteeship of the state of Montana and the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Oil Pollution Act and other laws.

The Montana Department of Justice said that, after evaluating “a range of restoration,” the state’s trustees have identified “preferred restoration alternatives designed to address the resource injuries.”

The trustees plan to work with project partners including local, state, and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations and landowners to implement the projects.

“This settlement is an important part of the work being done to ensure that the 2.7 million miles of oil, gas, and liquid chemical pipeline in this country remain safe, and that when incidents occur, the operators assume responsibility for cleanup,” U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said.