Ruptured Exxon pipeline cut out of the ground

MAYFLOWER (KATV) - Investigators came one step closer Monday to discovering what caused the oil spill that happened more than two weeks ago.

A 52 foot stretch of the Pegasus Pipeline where the rupture happened was cut out of the ground Monday. Some said it was a reminder of ExxonMobil's failure to prevent the disaster but Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson saw something else.

"I think it shows progress and I think it shows that, maybe, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Dodson.

Once taken out of the ground, the 52 foot stretch was hacked in half. Each section will be taken to an independent lab to figure out what caused the 22 foot rupture.

Government officials said that while cleanup has been a slow process, it's been a smooth one.

"It's gone very well," said Janie Acevedo with the EPA. "They've worked round the clock and they're doing really good under the unified command."

Judge Dodson said he is also pleased with the progress but that it's too soon to celebrate.

"We still have people that are not in their homes. We still have a marsh to clean up. We still want people to feel good about the cove. We still want people to feel good about the lake."

More than 10 families who live on Starlight Road have been given the green light to return but, so far, none have moved back, largely because of the constant cleanup effort still underway in their front yards.

ExxonMobil officials claim the pipeline was last tested in 2010 and showed no areas of concern at that time.