Exxon to pay $12M for Yellowstone oil spill

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay $12 million to settle damage claims over an oil pipeline break in the Yellowstone River, but it faces further potential fines for pollution violations.

A consent decree filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court resolves claims that the spill killed fish and wildlife and prevented recreational use of the river.

The accident upstream of Billings, Montana’s largest city, happened during flooding on the Yellowstone in July 2011.

It spilled 63,000 gallons of crude.

A U.S. Transportation Department investigation determined Exxon workers failed to heed warnings that the 20-year-old pipeline was at risk. The agency considered but rejected new rules to make companies bury pipelines more deeply beneath waterways.

Another pipeline broke beneath the Yellowstone last year near Glendive, Montana, contaminating the city’s water supply.