Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By John Dowd 

Work begins to remove pipeline


September 10, 2020

Since the 1950s the Yellowstone Pipeline, owned by the joint venture Yellowstone Pipeline Company (YPL), has been pumping petroleum from Billings to refineries and storage facilities across the state and into Washington. The line was closed following several spills on the Flathead Reservation between 1986 and 1993. Phillips 66, after working with the Montana Department of Natural Resources, YPL and the U.S. Forest Service, plans to remove portions of the 710- mile long pipeline in parts of Sanders County. Two of the spans to be removed lie between Plains and Thompson Falls.

In tota, four segments of the line spanning over the Clark Fork River will be removed. These segments have been out of commission since the 1990s and the first of which to be removed will be done so over the next couple of months. Much of the steel collected will be recycled, according to Jill Sweeney with Phillips 66. “The company prefers to remove these non-operational overhead spans rather than continue to perform maintenance on them,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney also said that the contractor hired has a good deal of experience in this type of project and both the contractor and Phillips 66 are working to do everything possible to ensure the safe removal of the spans.

The span of line through Sanders and part of the Flathead Reservation closed after the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes withdrew its lease for the pipeline to run through reservation land. Since then the line has been pumped into railcars that pass through the county and are then offloaded into storage tanks in Thompson Falls. The petroleum is then pumped back into the pipeline to Idaho.


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