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First look at the Mayflower oil spill rupture site

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MAYFLOWER (KATV) - One question so many{}people are still wondering is{}what does the rupture site of the oil spill actually look like? That area, especially around the pipeline rupture, has been closed to everyone except Exxon crews, law enforcement and a select few. Sunday Channel 7 got a closer look at this site.

"It was a big pop, a loud bang sound, and I didn't think anything about it," said Jennifer Whittington, a homeowner in the North Woods Subdivision.{}"I went out and about five minutes later I came out and there was the river of oil."

"The river of oil" that's how residents are describing what it looked like as thousands of barrels of petroleum came flowing out of the Pegasus pipeline down Starlite Rd. It looks much different now.

"When I came the other week I had to park around so it's looks like they are{}getting somewhere," said Whittington.

And officials insist they are. After removing most of the grass and several inches of soil on some properties they are now putting sod down.

"We may initially use sod for erosion control, that will then be taken up if they choose to landscape it differently," said Allen Dodson, Faulkner County Judge.

But there are{}still precautions being taken to ensure that any leftover oil isn't spreading. Deep holes in the ground filled with water are regularly checked.

So far, crews have been working on cleaning up the neighborhood. The next goal is to actually take out the pipe.

"They're literally sucking the crude out of the line," said Karen Tyrone, Director of pipeline operations for ExxonMobil. "That will make it safe for us to excavate out of the leak site and then cut the pipe and remove it and send it to a lab for the investigation."

But even with all of this progress there is still much more to be made. It will be at least several more days before residents can go back home.

"My kids are very confused so that's hard when they have lots of questions," said Whittington.{}"This is the only home they've ever known and now they're living out of a hotel."

But for Whittington the end of her stay at a local hotel is only the beginning of another set of worries.

"Just about the safety of my kids," she said.{}"Just when we come back, the long term effects of that."

Until then, there's only one thing she can do.

"Right now we're living day to day just trying to make it as normal as we can for our family," she said.

Crews still don't have a timeline on when residents can return to their homes. But they say good weather and sunny days speed up the process.


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