Exxon plans to drill 42 feet to replace Mont. pipeline

HELENA, Mont. — Montana officials say Exxon Mobil Corp. has applied for a temporary construction license to build a replacement for the pipeline that broke under the Yellowstone River.

Department of Natural Resources and Conservation director Mary Sexton said Wednesday the new line would be installed at a minimum depth of 42½ feet below the river using horizontal directional drilling.

The pipeline that broke July 1 and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the river was buried at least 5 feet beneath the river bottom.

Sexton says the construction license would be followed by an easement application by Exxon to use the state-owned riverbed. She says her agency will take public comment on the proposal until Aug. 17.

Exxon also needs the approval of federal regulators to replace the pipeline.