Crude Oil Spill in Arkansas
Exxon Mobil said that one of its pipelines leaked “a few thousand” barrels of Canadian heavy crude oil near Mayflower, Arkansas, late Friday, prompting the evacuation of 22 homes and reinforcing concerns many critics have raised about the Keystone XL pipeline that is awaiting State Department approval.
Exxon said the pipeline breach took place in the 50-cm-diameter, 95,000-barrel-a-day Pegasus pipeline, which originates in Patoka, Illinois, and carries oil to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Update on Cleanup Operations in Mayflower, AR
The Mayflower Incident Unified Command Joint Information Center provided the following update as cleanup operations continued Monday following a release of crude oil near Mayflower, AR.
•An excavation and removal plan for the affected portion of pipeline is being developed for review by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
•A cleanup plan has been developed and endorsed by the Unified Command. The plan encompasses the affected neighborhood of the North Woods subdivision and areas surrounding that neighborhood. As reported previously, Lake Conway was not impacted and a containment system using boom has been laid out as a precautionary measure to ensure oil does not get into the lake.
•ExxonMobil Pipeline Company has established a claims hotline (1-800-876-9291) for residents affected by the spill to register a claim and get more information. About 54 claims have been made to date.
•Ten oiled ducks have been recovered for treatment at the Hawk Center in Russellville for rehabilitation. Two additional ducks have been found dead. If residents find injured or oiled wildlife, they should call the claims hotline (1-800-876-9291) so that a trained professional can assist and minimize any potential harm. Residents are being asked not to approach wildlife for their safety and the safety of the wildlife.
•Fifteen vacuum trucks and 33 storage tanks have been deployed to the site to clean up and temporarily store the oil. Approximately 12,000 barrels of water and oil have been recovered. Crews are steam cleaning and pressure washing oil from property. Approximately 120 ExxonMobil workers are responding to the incident in addition to federal, state, and local resources.
•The Mayflower Police Department is providing escorts for residents from the area closest to the pipeline breach to return to their homes temporarily to pick up personal items. The city of Mayflower recommended continued evacuation of 22 homes on Starlite Road and Shade Tree Lane in the North Woods subdivision.
•A plan to return residents to their homes is currently being developed. Final approval of that plan will depend on health authorities.
•A community meeting was held on Saturday, March 30, less than 24 hours after the incident began, with presentations from members of the Unified Command, which includes the EPA, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Arkansas Department of Health, Faulkner County and ExxonMobil Pipeline Company.
•Emergency response personnel were on the ground within 30 minutes after the leak was detected.
•Emergency response efforts are focused on ensuring the safety of the community members and the response workers, addressing community concerns and the cleanup process.
•The EPA categorizes the incident as a ‘major spill.’ This category reflects a quantity greater than 250 barrels. A few thousand barrels of oil were observed in the area; a response for 10,000 barrels has been undertaken to ensure adequate resources are in place.
•The cause of the spill is under investigation.