by Max Brantley
The Sierra Club release follows. I've asked for a response from ExxonMobil:
Despite a massive cleanup effort in the Mayflower, Arkansas, neighborhood, the federal pipeline safety agency reports that ExxonMobil has recovered only 2,000 of the total 5,000 barrels of spilled tar sands crude. The accident incident report, which the agency shared with the Sierra Club after a Freedom of Information Act request, gives new insight into the size of the spill, and the ineffectiveness of the cleanup effort. The report reveals that in total 83 people were evacuated from their homes, emergency response took 40 minutes, the pipeline was operating at 708 pounds of pressure when it burst, and 2,000 barrels reached local waterways.
The Pegasus pipeline was built to carry diesel fuel in 1947, Exxon converted the pipeline to carry tar sands crude and reversed its flow in 2006. In 2011, the federal pipeline safety agency fined Exxon $26,500 for failure to properly inspect a section of the line.
Related: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Inside Climate News raised some similar concerns about unanswered questions in reporting this week:When did the pipeline begin leaking? When and how did the oil company find out about it? How quickly did the company act? How much oil spilled from the pipeline's 22-foot-long gash? And what condition was the line in before it ruptured?
The unanswered questions are urgent because they speak to issues of pipeline safety and enforcement as thousands of miles of new and reconfigured pipelines—including the Keystone XL—are being proposed to run across the United States.
Glen Hooks, Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative, issued the following statement:
“After its Pegasus pipeline ruptured more than a month ago, ExxonMobil sent an army of 600 workers into Mayflower in an attempt to clean up and contain more than 200,000 gallons of dirty tar sands. ExxonMobil has torn up yards and streets, evacuated families from their homes, sucked up wetlands and culverts, chased away media, and intimidated residents and elected officials.
“What ExxonMobil hasn’t done in the past month, according to the accident incident report, is recover even half of the tar sands that it spilled in Mayflower. More than 3,000 spilled barrels— — that’s 126,000 gallons — of toxic tar sands are unaccounted for. Mayflower deserves better. ExxonMobil needs to find the missing tar sands, clean up its mess, and make Mayflower whole again.”
Speaking of the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower: Reuters reports that Exxon has confirmed a spill from the same pipeline in Ripley County, Mo.
An Exxon spokeswoman said a resident notified the company of oil staining on the surface near the pipeline on Tuesday. The cleanup of the one-barrel leak was near completion, she said. The pipeline was already out of service following a spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, on March 29, Exxon said.