Oil spill reported at Crow Indian Reservation

The size of the spill is unknown as agencies respond to the incident between Lodge Grass and Fort Smith.

CROW INDIAN RESERVATION — An oil spill of unknown magnitude and duration has been reported at the Crow Indian Reservation.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published by Montana Free Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Richard Mylott, spokesman for Region 8 of the Environmental Protection Agency, said he understands the spill came from a gathering line, a pipeline used to transport crude oil from a wellhead to a central collection point. Gathering lines generally carry a lower volume of oil than transmission lines. He said there are currently no known impacts or threats to surface waters.

“The EPA will continue to monitor the reports and respond to any request or need for assistance,” he said.

According to DrillingEdge, which compiles oil and gas well information, Soap Creek Associates, Inc., has 31 operating wells in the area of ​​the reported spill. These wells produced 3,100 barrels of oil last January.

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Montana Free Press first learned of the spill by contacting Richard White Clay, who has been active in the Crow Allottee Association, an organization that advocates for landowners on the Crow reservation. He said another association member with a subdivision near Soap Creek reported the spill to him.

“They found an oil spill in their creek and they sent pictures,” he said.

National Pipeline Mapping System Crow Reserve Oil Spill
The National Pipeline Mapping System lists an incident involving a liquid hazardous material on the Crow Reservation between Fort Smith and Lodge Grass. Source: National Pipeline Mapping System

The National Pipeline Mapping System shows that there was an incident involving a pipeline carrying a hazardous liquid between Lodge Grass and Fort Smith. According to the NPMS, there are four pipeline operators that monitor pipelines in Big Horn County: Cenex Pipeline, LLC; WBI Energy Transmission, Inc.; North West Company; and Phillips 66 Pipeline, LLC. It is not known if any of these companies operate the collection line believed to be the source of the spill.

In a Tuesday morning email to the MTFP, Clifford Serawop, superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Crow Agency office, said BIA land service personnel would respond to the incident.

“Even though it’s allotted land, it’s still land held in trust, so we want to make sure we take care of it,” Serawop said.

Allotted land conveys ownership to a landowner with restrictions on its transfer and use. The land is held in trust for tribal members by the federal government.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Moira Davin said DEQ was aware of the spill, but was not acting as the response manager.

“It looks like the EPA and the reservation staff will be the main culprits,” she said.

Emails to the Crow Tribe’s media account and calls to Vernon Hill, who works with the Tribe’s Disaster Emergency Services Division, were not returned by press time Wednesday. morning.

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Nohemi M. Moore