As the second week of the oil spill cleanup begins, EPA staff are optimistic about receding water levels in the Yellowstone River, which will allow access to previously inaccessible portions of the river.
This news comes as data becomes available from testing and monitoring conducted last week. A map for both water and air monitoring data is now available at http://www.epa.gov/yellowstoneriverspill. The validated data confirms preliminary information indicating the water is safe and shows no elevated levels above instrument detection for volatile organic compounds.
“We are continuing to do air sampling and are ramping up water sampling in domestic wells,” said Steve Merritt, EPA On-Scene Coordinator. “We want to screen every drinking water well within the heaviest affected area between Laurel and Billings as quickly as possible and move down river from there.”
There are hundreds of wells in the area, and EPA’s testing priority is domestic drinking water wells to protect human health. As such, EPA will initially screen wells that provide drinking water at homes and businesses in the impacted area.
As part of the requirements of the Administrative Order issued by EPA to ExxonMobil on July 6th, ExxonMobil has delivered a draft work plan to EPA. The work plan contains 7 key elements, and EPA has determined that 3 of those elements are incomplete and need technical clarification and scope of work definition. EPA has presented details on deficiencies to ExxonMobil and expects a response within 1 week.
EPA is working to complete a Pollution Removal Funding Authorization (PRFA) for Montana Fish Wildlife and Game (MFWG). This will allow MFWG to participate in the shoreline assessments and final shoreline cleanup approval.
The public meeting to be held in Laurel, MT this week has been moved from Tuesday to Wednesday at 6:30 PM, location to be determined. Media availability sessions will continue to be held by EPA daily at 11 a.m. The session will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located at 27 North 27th Street in Billings, Conference Room 5 (3rd floor).