ExxonMobil reports progress in cleanup effort

MAYFLOWER (KATV) - Four days after one of their pipelines burst, pouring more than 12,000 barrels of oil into a Faulkner County subdivision, ExxonMobil said they were making progress in cleaning up the resulting mess.

Twenty-two families were displaced by the incident. State health authorities have still not released a timeline on when they will be able to go home.

According to a press release, soil and plants were in the process of being replaced in the Northwoods neighborhood. An excavation and removal plan for the damaged section of the Pegasus Pipeline was still in the works as of Wednesday afternoon. Once it is completed, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will have to approve it.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the division of USDOT charged with overseeing the nation's pipelines, issued a corrective action order against ExxonMobil. The order means that the company cannot do anything with the area of pipeline that burst until the administration is confident that all immediate safety concerns have been addressed.

The EPA has categorized the incident as a "major spill." Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused it to happen.

ExxonMobil said in a press release that they are paying the full cost of the cleanup, including homeowner claims. Anyone who wants to file a claim can call (1-800) 876-9291. About 140 had been made as of Wednesday afternoon.

Thirteen vacuum trucks and 46 storage tanks were on site to clean up and temporarily store oil. Most of the free-standing oil has been recovered. Residual oil is being cleaned up through a combination of pressure washing, use of absorbent pads and removal of contaminated soil and vegetation.

Lake Conway remains oil free though a cove adjacent to the lake was affected. There has been no impact on Mayflower's drinking water supply, which comes from the Community Water System, including Greers Ferry Lake.

Sixteen oiled ducks, seven turtles, nine reptiles, one beaver and a muskrat have been recovered for treatment. Seven ducks have been found dead. If you see an animal that may have been affected by the spill, you are asked to call the same hotline at (1-800) 876-9291.

Mayflower School District's superintendent told Channel 7 News Tuesday that eight children went home Monday because of fumes from the spill but none went home Tuesday.

The EPA and ExxonMobil are monitoring the area's air quality with all of those documents being passed on to the Arkansas Department of Health. An ExxonMobil press release said that all air quality readings were below levels likely to cause health effects.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel expressed skepticism of that after his own tour of the site, telling the media, "All of our heads ached from our limited exposure to the fumes."

Workers in the cleanup areas were provided with air quality monitors and breathing equipment for use when necessary.