Media & Press Inquiries

Unified Command Press Release as of 1200 – August 16

Cleanup teams reached an initial river cleanup end point at 136 miles downstream from the incident site, just below the confluence with the Bighorn River. As outlined in the Guidance for End Point and Treatment document, cleanup efforts on the river will wind down when 3 or fewer actionable asphalt areas are identified within a 10 mile stretch of river. In the current final 10 miles of cleanup, a single actionable asphalt area was observed, therefore meeting the wind down criteria. River operations also must be scaled down due to low water levels preventing safe boat access to cleanup areas. Additional cleanup operations will resume during the summer of 2024.

While extensive cleanup efforts are scaling down, a local cleanup taskforce will remain in the area to respond to reports of asphalt material submitted through The public is encouraged to continue reporting asphalt material to this email box. This crew will specifically target actionable asphalt material, defined as asphalt material that can be safely removed without causing significant damage to natural habitat, such as removal of natural sediment and vegetation. If the reported asphalt material is not actionable, the taskforce will attempt to break it into smaller pieces and cover it with sediment to aid in the natural break down process.

To date, teams have collected approximately 231,700 pounds of asphalt material. The mass balance, or total volume, for the asphalt material that entered the river has been calculated at approximately 419,442 pounds of material. Therefore, crews collected approximately 55% of spilled material.

Anyone with information about oiled or impacted wildlife are encouraged to continue call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) Response Hotline at 888-ASK-OWCN (888-275-6926).

As of August 15, eight snakes and eleven birds died after encountering the asphalt material; one snake encountered the material and was released back into the environment for 20 total confirmed animals impacted by the material.

The natural resource damage process to evaluate the damage caused to the environment due to this event will continue through the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program.

This will be the final regularly issued press release for the incident, but further press releases may be issued on an as-needed basis.

Asphalt material observed at river mile 128

Asphalt material observed at river mile 128.


This response operated under a Unified Command which enables different jurisdictions and organizations to jointly manage and direct incident activities. Unified Command for this incident is comprised of representatives from Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Montana Rail Link. This is the final press release from Unified Command.