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US Fish and Wildlife Service looking for fishery damage from oil spill April 29,2012   |  Source: AP

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has collected samples from fish in the Yellowstone River as part of a process to determine whether the fishery was damaged by last year's oil spill and if Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay for restoration work.

Workers captured rainbow trout and shorthead redhorse suckers on Wednesday downstream of Laurel where the company's pipeline beneath the river broke last July, resulting in an estimated 63,000 gallons of oil entering the river. Less than 1 percent was recovered. The cleanup of the spill last summer cost an estimated $135 million after pipeline repairs were factored in.

"We're pre-assessing right now to see if there is enough evidence to do a full-blown study," said Bob Gibson, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The state agency caught the fish using a jet boat fitted with shocking equipment that sent an electrical current through the water, stunning the fish that were netted and then given to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service technicians.

The technicians from the Bozeman Fish Health Center used a portable laboratory at the Duck Creek fishing access. It could be several months before lab tests are analyzed.

"It would be premature to say something right now," said Larry Peterman, who is overseeing the fisheries work for


© 2012, The Anchorage Daily News, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Company

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