Exxon agrees to $1 million fine over 2011 Yellowstone River oil spill

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle U.S. charges involving a 2011 pipeline rupture that spilled oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana.

Flooding was blamed for an underwater breach that spread more than 1,500 barrels of oil along the waterway and caused the evacuation of about 140 people near Laurel, Montana.

ExxonMobil Pipeline Company’s Silvertip pipeline burst July 1, 2011 at a crossing beneath the flood-swollen Yellowstone River, about 150 miles (240 km) downstream from Yellowstone National Park.

Exxon accepted the fine without admitting violations, according to the agreement filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court for Montana. The company reviewed and improved security of the pipeline’s water crossings, paid $1.6 million for spill clean-up and $12 million for restoration projects, the agreement noted.

“This settlement provides for an acceptable outcome that avoids protracted litigation between the parties,” the company said in a statement.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Susan Thomas and Steve Orlofsky