2015 Bridger/Yellowstone River Oil Spill Draft Assessment Plan Available for Public Comment

Last edited 09/03/2020

The Natural Resource Trustees for the Bridger Poplar Pipeline oil spill have released a Draft Revised Partial Claim for Past and Future Assessment Costs for public review. On January 17, 2015, the Poplar Pipeline, which is owned and operated by Bridger Pipeline, LLC, of Casper, Wyoming, discharged at least 30,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil into the Yellowstone River just upstream of Glendive, Montana.  The draft Claim describes the Trustees' proposed future Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) activities that will be needed in order to identify appropriate compensatory restoration projects for this spill.

In January 2015, the Trustees began the preassessment phase of the NRDAR in accordance with 15 C.F.R. Part 990, Subpart D, to determine if the Trustees had jurisdiction to pursue restoration under OPA, and, if so, whether it was appropriate to do so. During the preassessment phase, the Trustees collected and analyzed and are continuing to collect and analyze the following: (1) data reasonably expected to be necessary to make a determination of the Trustees’ jurisdiction or a determination to conduct restoration planning, (2) ephemeral data, and (3) information needed to design or implement restoration and assessment activities as part of the restoration planning phase. The Trustees collected water, sediment, and fish samples (muscle tissue, major organs, gills, blood, bile, and reproductive organs), and evaluated information related to potential feasible restoration alternatives and assessment activities.

The draft claim describes how the Trustees intend to complete the evaluation of the oil spill's harm done to fish, birds and the human uses of those natural resources. Secondly, the draft claim describes the work to be done to develop and evaluate restoration ideas and describes a rough budget for the evaluation work.

The following agencies (collectively, “the Trustees”) are designated natural resources trustees under OPA.  For this Incident, the federal trustee is the United States Department of the Interior, represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State trustee, in accordance with 40 C.F.R.§ 300.605 and 33 U.S.C. § 2706(b)(3), is the Governor of the State of Montana. The Governor of the State of Montana is represented by the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, an entity within the Montana Department of Justice. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative is the point of contact for the Natural Resources Trustees.

The Trustees encourage active participation of the public in the assessment through the public comment process. Comments regarding the Draft Assessment Plan may be submitted in writing by May 11, 2018 to:

Karen Nelson
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Montana Field Office
585 Shephard Way, Suite 1
Helena, MT 59601

Upon completion of the NRDA described in the draft Claim, the Trustees will release a Restoration Plan for public comment. This Restoration Plan will describe the results of the NRDA and the Trustees’ proposed restoration alternatives for compensating for the environmental harm caused by the Bridger Poplar Pipeline oil spill.

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