Crews mop up oil on Yellowstone River in Montana
Exxon ramps up Montana oil spill cleanup, but where it all went still unclear as river rises
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline near Laurel ruptured and spilled an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
LAUREL, Mont. (AP) -- The scope of Exxon Mobil Corp.'s oil leak into the Yellowstone River could extend far beyond a 10-mile stretch of the famed waterway,
the company acknowledged under political pressure Monday.
As the company intensified its cleanup of tens of thousands of gallons of spilled crude, Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. President Gary Pruessing pledged to do "whatever is necessary" to find and mop up oil from the 12-inch pipeline that broke at the bottom of the river over the weekend.
The company earlier downplayed assertions from state and federal officials that damage from the spill was spread over dozens of miles. That drew sharp criticism from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who planned to tour the damaged areas Tuesday.
Company officials said their statements were misconstrued, and Pruessing pledged that crews would begin walking the Yellowstone shoreline as soon as the flooding river recedes to look for pooled oil along the banks.
"We're not limiting the scope of our cleanup to the immediate site," Pruessing said at a news conference along the river near Laurel, as crews mopped up oil in the background. "We are not trying to suggest in any way that that's the limit of exposure."
As of Monday evening, Exxon Mobil said it had received 36 calls to a hotline from landowners concerning oil on their property.
Underscoring rising anger over the spill among some riverfront property owners, Pruessing was confronted after his news conference by a goat farmer and environmental activist who said his partner was sickened by oil fumes and had to be taken to the emergency room."I need to know what we've been exposed to. People are sick now,"
Mike Scott said. Scott's partner, Alexis Bonogofsky, was diagnosed Monday with acute hydrocarbon exposure after she experienced dizziness, nausea and trouble breathing, he said.