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GLENDIVE, Mont. — Five days after an oil spill contaminated their water supply, the 5,000 residents of this eastern Montana town were still waiting Thursday for word that it was safe to drink from their taps.
State environmental officials said Glendive's water no longer shows elevated levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical found in oil. If the lab tests are confirmed, the water will be deemed drinkable.
Meanwhile, the consequences of Saturday's 40,000-gallon spill, about six miles upstream from Glendive on the Yellowstone River, are still rippling through the community. As environmental officials struggled to remove oil from the river, the town is relying on water trucked in by the pipeline owner, Bridger Pipeline.
"People are probably afraid to come out and eat," Colin Liver, owner of the C.C. Family Cafe, told NBC News. "We tell them upfront we'll have to sell them bottled water."
And there's still no telling of the impact on wildlife in the ecologically fragile landscape. "It's gonna take us some time to figure out what caused this but we will find out what happened. And do everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Bill Salving, a spokesman for Bridger Pipeline.