Oil in lake? Depends who you ask

MAYFLOWER (KATV) - The oil leak in Mayflower is still less than a week old and the clean-up is a long way from finished, but there is growing concern over the future of that area.

Conflicting reports from different agencies aren't helping the people around Mayflower decide if it's safe.

Recent tests of air quality show volatile organic compounds remain in the air, but Exxon is sticking to their comment that no oil or remnants from the Pegasus Line burst have seeped into Lake Conway.

However, there's a different story about future impacts from two people that have worked near the grounds.

"You don't live in the affected neighborhood, but you live close by?" said Glen Hooks during a phone-call at his Sierra Club office with a concerned Mayflower resident.

Hooks continues to take similar calls this week; all with lots of questions, but few answers.

"It is really hard to say if they'll ever be able to return to a normal life," Hooks said. "I mean they're always going to be wondering what am I breathing, what's under my house?"

Mayflower Waterworks assured residents Thursday it's drinking water is fine, but the hard part for residents is knowing if the rest of the area is safe.

"All the state agencies seem to be deferring to Exxon Mobile," Hooks added. "From any department in the state, they route you to the Exxon Mobile hotline. Exxon Mobile has been trying to bar people from meetings."

From the office, we headed to the lab.

"You can tell he's a little dehydrated because of the foils of his skin and the curves of his body. That's the first thing we're worried about is the dehydration," said Dr. Ben Cash about an oil-covered snake from the lab on the University of Central Arkansas Campus.

Dr. Cash spent Thursday working to clean-off snakes recovered from the {}

tail water area of Lake Conway, a place Exxon's staff will tell you isn't polluted.

"For me, simply as a biologist, when I look at that whether it's tail water area or not it's in areas that are connected to the lake," Dr. Cash added about Exxon's stance that oil isn't in the water.

Not only will the people here be impacted long term, but Dr. Cash expects animal life in the area should be affected drastically as well.

"What's going on? We need to make sure we're looking at the effects of this in a more long-term manner. That's something that'll be important," he said.

There remains speculation as to whether oil is actually in that lake or not. An Exxon official told Channel Seven by phone that there is not any oil there, but that it had not yet finalized the water tests.