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Oil spill leaks 50K gallons into Yellowstone River, residents told not to drink water

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Jan 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-20 15:39:07-05

GLENDIVE, Mont. – A Montana pipeline burst sent as much as 50,400 gallons of oil gushing into the Yellowstone River, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency.

Residents in nearby cities were told not to drink the tap water, which some said smelled like diesel.

The massive oil spill happened when the 12-inch pipeline, which crosses the Yellowstone River, ruptured Saturday about 5 miles upstream from Glendive, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality said.

The Bridger Pipeline company shut down the pipeline.

Glendive City Council member Gerald Reichert was among the residents who noticed a disturbing odor in the drinking water.

“Suddenly at our house there was a definite smell. It was a diesel smell,” Reichert told the Grand Forks Herald.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced a state of emergency for Dawson and Richland counties.

And while officials wait for results from water sample testing, they’re advising residents to use bottled water for drinking and cooking.

A host of agencies have responded to the oil spill, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Adding to the problems, the weather: the Yellowstone River is partially frozen, making it difficult to clean up the mess.

This isn’t the first major oil spill into the Yellowstone River — the longest undammed river in the United States.

In 2011, up to 42,000 gallons poured out of a ruptured Exxon Mobil pipeline.

By: Holly Yan, CNN’s Dave Alsup contributed to this report.