The initial cleanup along the oil-fouled Yellowstone River could be tested Tuesday as rising waters make it harder for Exxon Mobil Corp. to get to areas damaged by the crude spilled from a company pipeline.

The National Weather Service predicts the Yellowstone River, swelling with mountain snowmelt amid hot summer temperatures, will peak at Billings on Tuesday afternoon.

The 12-inch pipeline burst Friday upstream from a refinery in Billings. Exxon Mobil estimates that up to 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, of crude oil oozed into the Yellowstone before the leak was stopped.

After downplaying assertions from state and federal officials that damage from the spill was spread over dozens of miles, Exxon Mobil has acknowledged that the scope of the leak could extend far beyond a 10-mile stretch of the river.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who earlier criticized the company's inspection of the spill, planned to tour the damaged areas Tuesday.

Associated Press