Cleanup continues in Mayflower, more residents allowed home

Workers in charge of cleanup efforts in Mayflower have issued an update about their progress so far. The information comes from the Mayflower Incident Unified Command Joint Information Center.

Cleanup operations continued Thursday after heavy rain and thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon. Officials say a containment boom system ensured remaining oil was contained in the marsh between the interstate highway and a cove adjacent to Lake Conway.

Workers say there was no evidence of any of the oil spreading because of the rain.

According the report, water sampling confirms the main body of Lake Conway remains oil free. Water samples are also being taken in the cove to ensure oil has not migrated into that area. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and ExxonMobil are continuing to monitor water samples.

The Arkansas Health Department says there should be minimal to no impact on the health of North Woods residents. The health department has agreed on a re-entry plan for up to ten homes in the evacuated area.

ExxonMobil says it is paying for the cleanup and will honor all valid claims. The company is developing a plan to address concerns about the long-term value of homes in the North Woods neighborhood up to and including home purchases.

Residents can call a claims hotline (1-800-876-9291) for more information. As of April 10, 208 claims have been made.

As far as the animals, 3 snakes, 6 turtles and a toad were released Thursday.{} Approximately 158 live animals have been captured so far. The majority of the impacted wildlife have been reptiles, primarily venomous snakes. Fish in the main body of Lake Conway have not been affected.

U.S. Environmental Services and Wildlife Response Services, ExxonMobil contractors, are caring for recovered animals.

The Mayflower Incident Unified Command Joint Information Center extended appreciation to the Hawk Center, which initially cared for wildlife during the emergency response.{} Residents who find injured or oiled wildlife should call the claims hotline (1-800-876-9291) and not approach wildlife for their safety and the safety and welfare of the wildlife.

The Unified Command estimates approximately 5,000 barrels of oil were spilled on March 29. A final estimated release volume will be provided once the line has been repaired and refilled.

The cleanup effort includes a combination of vacuum trucks, pressure washing, and the removal of contaminated soil and vegetation. It also includes the use of oleophilic and hydrophobic pads, made from specially designed materials that absorb oil but not water.

About 700 people are responding to the incident including federal, state and local personnel.

There has been no impact on Mayflower's drinking water supply. Community Water System manages Mayflower's water supply, which comes from Greer's Ferry Lake.

Cleanup workers say local emergency responders from the city and county have made a significant contribution to the cleanup operation. Emergency response personnel were on the ground within 30 minutes after the leak was detected.

The cause of the spill is under investigation.