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Exxon to pay US$12 million for Yellowstone oil spill

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World Pipelines,

5 years have passed since an Exxon Mobil Corp. pipeline spilt 63 000 gal (238 474 liters) of oil into Montana's Yellowstone River. According to abc News, The Daily Interlake and The Daily Mail, Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay US$12 million to settle environmental damage claims over the pipeline break into the River.

The payment is aimed at settling claims that the crude oil killed fish and wildlife, while also damaging thousands of acres of land along an 85 mile (137 km) stretch of the river.

The deal will be finalised pending a 30 day public comment period and court approval. A consent decree detailing terms of the settlement is to be filed in the US District Court of Montana.

While court approval is pending before US Magistrate Judge, Carolyn Ostby, the Daily Mail has reported that despite this offer, the company still face further penalties for pollution law violations.

The settlement comes after a US Transportation Department investigation found that Exxon workers did not adequately heed warnings that the 20 year old pipeline was at risk due to flooding.

While Exxon claims that it had previously spent US$135 million on cleanup and repairs, Assistant US Attorney General, John Cruden, highlighted that restoration of the river is not fully complete.

Gov. Steve Bullock commented: "All of us as Montanans lost something when that spill occurred. This money is to make sure not just that we're compensated but the pelicans are where they should be, the fish are where they should be."

Essentially, Montana will receive US$9.5 million and the federal government will get the remaining $2.5 million.

Approximately US$4.7 million of the settlement will go to shoreline and channel restoration and improvement, while US$3.6 million will focus on wildlife habitat restoration, US$2.4 million for improving recreational access, US$900 000 for restoration planning and US$400 000 for improving white pelican breeding areas.

Exxon spokeswoman, Ashley Smith Alemayehu, said: "[the settlement is] an adequate resolution to restore, rehabilitate and or replace injured natural resources and services to pre-spill conditions."

Penalties against Exxon for possible federal Clean Water Act violations stemming from the 2011 spill have not yet been levied and an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency continues.

Edited from various sources by Anna Nicklin

Sources: abc News, The Daily Interlake, The Daily Mail

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