Homeowners still living in North Woods subdivision speak about oil spill

Chopper 7

MAYFLOWER (KATV) - A week after an ExxonMobil pipeline burst in the middle of a suburban subdivision, ExxonMobil officials said they were happy with the progress they'd made while residents desperately waited for answers.

The Pegasus Pipeline rupture was classified as a "major spill" by federal standards. 19,000 barrels of water and thick crude oil was recovered in the first week. Initially, the spill was not expected to need more than 10,000 barrels. ExxonMobil said most of those were water, but they also contained a heavy type of crude oil that isn't the motor oil we think of.

This all began in the North Woods subdivision where 22 homes were still evacuated after a full week, with no immediate plans to get residents back home.

ExxonMobil's vice president of operations told Channel 7 News that despite skepticism in the community, they were making progress in the cleanup.

"We've been working hard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, obviously," said Karen Tyrone, "and it is a milestone to get a week past the spill and we're pleased with the progress we've made. We'd like to be done. We're not. We will be here until we are done."

Nancy Summers lives on the southern, less affected side of the subdivision. She and her husband chose to stay in their home of five years while more than 600 people clean up the mess - much of which is practically in her front yard.

"They say the quality of the air is good but what does that mean, it's good enough?" Nancy asked. "All I know is, it still smells over here."

While Karen Tyrone said she understands the workers will never be able to work as fast as residents would like for them to, she said any end date for the cleanup would just be speculation.

"We need to make sure we have enough heavy equipment off the streets that it's safe to have traffic rolling in and out."

"I think it's going good," said Summers, "but you really don't know because they don't let you in there to see what they're doing."