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Tests reveal tar sands in Lake Conway, Exxon denies

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MAYFLOWER (KATV) - An expert in water testing tells Channel 7 new information conflicting with reports from Exxon about the Mayflower oil spill.

A person who conducted several water tests said there are remnants of the oil spill in Lake Conway, and could be headed toward the Arkansas River.

It's been one the hottest topics talked about around morning coffee in Mayflower, and now residents may finally have answers from an outside source on whether tar sands are indeed in their beloved lake.

Mayflower resident Billy Coleman said it was along the banks of Lake Conway where shortly after the oil spill he captured a duck he routinely sees around there. This time it had a different look.

"It had a lot of oil on it, we were kind of concerned that it wasn't going to make it. Usually they nest around here," Coleman said.

Now an expert confirms a fear Coleman and many of his neighbors share.

"Yes, there's oil in Lake Conway and there's oil downstream flowing into the

Arkansas River," said Scott Smith, who is president and CEO of Opflex Solutions.

Opflex Solutions is a proponent of "efficient oil cleanup," and its preliminary tests came back with positive signs of tar sands in the lake.

Smith said to his understanding there's a discrepancy in Exxon's water testing. According to him, they test the surface and soil samples at the bottom, but his company is focusing on the water columns in-between.

"I have found methylene chloride and barium in concentrations indicative of tar sands oil," he added.

Exxon nor a representative with the environmental protection agency would speak to us on camera, but they released this statement today:

"In response to your recent inquiry, water sampling confirms the main body of Lake Conway remains oil-free. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality continues to monitor water samples. Further assessments also show there is no oil in Palarm Creek, which is located south of Lake Conway."

"I'm very disappointed in our elected officials across the country and in the organizations that are supposed to serve the community," Smith said while looking at the map of Lake Conway that shows where he found positive tests for tar sands.

"Communities deserve elected officials and government agencies that are trying to connect the communities."

Another neighbor showed Channel 7 pictures of the nutria he found dead in his yard over the weekend, he said it was soaked in oil.

Some remain in shock at Monday's revelation of what could be in the peaceful body of water they call home.

"I hope that's not true, if it's true that would be bad," Coleman told us.

Faulkner County's Advisor Group has asked many of these independent agencies to come and conduct testing and samples of their own, to see how it compares to what Exxon is releasing.

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