EPA gives initial OK for Exxon’s Mont. spill plan

BILLINGS, Mont. — Exxon Mobil has received preliminary approval for its plan to clean up tens of thousands of gallons of oil that spilled from a broken pipeline that runs beneath Montana’s scenic Yellowstone River.

Steve Merritt with the Environmental Protection Agency said the company has until Aug. 8 to finalize the plan, which will guide the cleanup expected to last at least another six weeks.

There are nearly 900 people involved in cleaning dozens of miles of river fouled by the July 1 spill. State officials estimate up to 50,400 gallons of oil, or 1,200 barrels, entered the river. Exxon Mobil says it lost up to 42,000 gallons.

Results of tests for contamination in soil and residential wells are expected by next Wednesday following a two-week delay.