Instead it took nearly an hour for that to happen when a pipeline ruptured on July 1, releasing an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil into the longest undammed river in the U.S.
"We were told that there were automatic shut off valves and that it’s not possible that it could run even a couple of minutes into the river before it shut off," Schweitzer told MSNBC, recalling how the state and Exxon Mobil ran a mock drill on the river last year.
Once the spill happened, “Exxon Mobil said to begin with that it had only run for six minutes and that it was controlled out of Houston, Texas,” he added. “That grew to 30 minutes and then it’s unclear if they’re now saying 48 or 58 minutes.”
U.S. Department of Transportation records indicate the pipeline was not fully shut down for 56 minutes after the break occurred Friday near Laurel at 10:40 p.m. local time. Emergency responders at the National Response Center were notified of the spill at 12:19 a.m.
The company said the longer timeframe did not change its estimate of how much crude entered a river famous for its fishing and vital to farmers for irrigation.