Mont. oil-fouled debris from Exxon being torched

By MATTHEW BROWN | November 8, 2011 | 12:15 PM EST

LAUREL, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials have set fire to an oil-tainted logjam along the Yellowstone River — the last of dozens of contaminated debris piles from a 42,000-gallon Exxon Mobil pipeline spill.

Regulators say the logjam was too precarious to be hauled away but needed to be removed to prevent future wildlife damage from the July 1 pipeline break near Laurel.

The burn began Tuesday morning and state officials say it will last through the day. Prevailing winds should keep smoke away from Billings.

Exxon Mobil disclosed last week that it faces $135 million in costs from the cleanup and pipeline repairs.

Federal officials are investigating the cause.

An attorney representing landowners in a civil lawsuit against the company says he will be seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.