Montanan on Oil Spill: "We Were On Our Own"


For Alexis Bonogofsky, tribal lands senior coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, the ExxonMobil oil spill in Montana's Yellowstone River affects both her job and lifestyle.

Raising meat goats with her husband on a family farm, the oil that washed up on her property makes half of her land unusable. Bonogofsky told Citydesk authorities never contacted her after the spill occurred on July 1.

“I didn’t find out about the oil spill until I saw it,” said Bonogofsky. “We were on our own. No one called us. We had to find people and demand answers.”

The breach was in the Silvertip pipeline, the main line from northern Wyoming to Exxon's Billings, Mont., refinery. It is estimated that 42,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the pipe.

Bonogofsky said the State of Montana, not Exxon, should be handling the cleanup effort, starting with a public meeting to inform the public on possible risks to health, land, water and wildlife.

Exxon crews have yet to reach the ruptured pipeline because water levels are too high and the current is moving quickly. Under such conditions, it's also proving difficult to round up the crude oil already in the Yellowstone.

Besides her polluted land, Bonogofsky has already experienced the aftermath of the oil spill.

“At night, you could hear toads, frogs and crickets. And now you don’t hear anything,” said Bonogofsky.

Oil in Montanas Yellowstone River
  • Alexis Bonogofsky
  • Oil in Montana's Yellowstone River