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Sharpen your filet knife

Good news, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has declared that it is safe to eat fish caught from the Yellowstone River oil spill area.

Fish exposed to an Exxon Mobil Corp. oil spill into the Yellowstone River are safe to eat despite some crude found in their internal organs, state wildlife officials said Thursday.

Even though the findings raise concerns about future reproduction of affected fish, you can go ahead and chow down. And just think, you don’t even have to grease the pan!

Nearly two months after a rupture in the Exxon Silvertip pipeline that poured more than 42,000 gallons of crude into one of the wildest rivers in the nation, valiant cleanup efforts have recovered nearly 400 gallons of oil, or approaching 1% of the spill.  Not to worry though Mike Trombetta, chief of the hazardous waste site cleanup bureau of the Montana DEQ reassured us last month,

“Petroleum is not one chemical. It’s a mixture of hundreds of chemicals and every crude is different,” Trombetta said. “All petroleum over time will naturally degrade. The lighter ends volatize off, evaporate in the air. Oil will degrade over time, depending on where it is.”

In the river, microbes will break the petroleum down when conditions are right, Trombetta said. In some cases the oil will bind with sediment and form tar balls, settling in deep, slow-moving channels. Cleanup crews will be collecting tar balls when possible, but others will be left behind.

So, someday most of the oil will be gone, into the atmosphere, sunk into the sediments or absorbed into streamside vegetation. Until then though, don’t forget that while the fish are mostly edible, tar balls are strictly catch and release.

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