Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism

Department or School/College

School of Journalism

Committee Chair

Lee Banville

Commitee Members

Joseph Eaton, Tony Ward


oil, montana, superfund, cut bank


The University of Montana


The oil-soaked ground underneath several homes near the Tank Hill Facilities released vapors into the homes. The people in Cut Bank, Montana complained, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality held a meeting in 2010. But that was just the beginning.Residents in Cut Bank, Montana just filed a complaint against four oil companies who used the Tank Hill crude oil storage and transportation facility. But the complaint only culminated after 24 years of suffering oil fumes, contaminated water and decreased property value. The Tank Hill Facilities superfund site had been used to store and transport crude oil since the 1930s. But no one noticed the risk until 1988 when the first gas fumes filtered into homes. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality tank program investigated. They found that the petroleum formed a plume underneath houses and sewers. Cut Bank occupies a grey area of the state superfund legislation where the contamination is bad, but not bad enough. There are 208 state superfund sites in Montana, many dealing with petroleum leaks like Cut Bank. Unlike the federal superfund legislation which deals directly with public health, the Montana state superfund legislation circumvents public health and can handle smaller contamination. Still, the question lingers of what you do when the contamination is bad, but not bad enough and runs through the middle of the town.



© Copyright 2014 Krysti Shallenberger