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Yellowstone Oil Spill: Lawsuit Filed Over Property Damage

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YELLOWSTONE RIVER OIL SPILL LAWSUIT
This undated image provided by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality shows the broken Exxon Mobil pipeline beneath Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont. This shot taken from the south bank of the river near Laurel shows the 12-inch pipeline extending into the water and a tree snagged on it underwater. State officials say these photos show conclusively that pipeline was completely severed, as opposed to sprung a leak. (AP Photo/Montana Department of Environmental Quality) | AP

BILLINGS, Mont. — Several landowners whose property was damaged when an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline spilled oil into the Yellowstone River have filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages for long-term harm to their property and businesses.

Attorney Cliff Edwards filed the lawsuit in state District Court in Billings on Tuesday on behalf of eight landowners, The Billings Gazette ( ) reported. http://bit.ly/rk3DxI

An oil pipeline buried 5 to 7 feet below the Yellowstone River ruptured July 1, spilling about 42,000 gallons of crude oil into the flooded waterway.

Dale Getz, a community relations adviser for ExxonMobil in Billings, said to his knowledge, the lawsuit is the first related to the spill, but the company does not comment on pending litigation. He said the cleanup will continue.

The lawsuit names ExxonMobil Oil Corp., ExxonMobil Pipeline in Houston, Billings refinery manager Jon Wetmore and pipeline terminal superintendent Jason Montgomery.

It alleges the landowners suffered damage including trespass, nuisance and stigma because landowners selling their land will have to disclose the oil spill to prospective buyers. The lawsuit also alleges Exxon's cleanup efforts have been "haphazard, sloppy and not well coordinated."

The 12-inch Silvertip pipeline has since been re-buried 60 feet to 70 feet under the riverbed and the flow of oil has resumed.

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Information from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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