Exxon gets slapped with $2.6 million fine in Mayflower oil spill

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration releases its report on the Exxon Pegasus Pipeline rupture in Mayflower back in March.{} The notice of probable violation lists numerous probable violations and hands down a hefty fine.

Allegations handed down from PHMSA focus primarily on what they suspect Exxon knew or should have known, chiefly what they should have known about the welding on the pipeline meandering through Mayflower.

"They knew this and they did not take the steps necessary in terms of frequency of testing and type of testing," said Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Arkansas).

Griffin practically sums up the 18 page report sent to the president of ExxonMobil, Gary Pruessing.{} The report outlines nine different probable violations found during PHMSA's investigation of the ruptured pipeline along with the inspection of operation and maintenance records from the oil company.{}

The most notable probable violation details the type of welding on the Pegasus pipeline.{} According to PHMSA there were known problems with the electric-resistance welding on the pipeline, citing it was prone to failure, and they said Exxon should have known the risk.

"It just raises more questions about why Exxon didn't go the extra mile," said Griffin in questioning Exxon's pipeline inspection procedure.

With the each probable violation come proposed fines for each one - all fines totaling up to $2.6 million.{} That's something Exxon's not happy about and Aaron Stryk, communications & media director, deny several of the allegations made by PHMSA in a statement:

"It does appear that PHMSA's analysis is flawed and the agency has made some fundamental errors."{}

But Griffin is concerned this report is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Depending on what we find with the rest of the pipe, there could be more," said Griffin.

PHMSA has given Exxon a proposed compliance order requiring the company to take a good look at its inspection procedures for the Pegasus pipeline.{} Exxon maintains the pipeline continues to be nonoperational until, "we are satisfied it is safe to do so and have the approval of PHMSA."