THE MAYFLOWER SPILL: Water utility objects to settlement of federal case over Exxon Mobil pipeline break.
Central Arkansas Water
has objected sharply to a proposed consent decree to settle a state and federal lawsuit over the rupture of the Exxon Mobil Pegasus pipeline
that inundated a Mayflower
neighborhood with heavy crude oil.
The water utility, which provides water to customers throughout Central Arkansas from Lake Maumelle, said the proposed injunctive relief "a) does little, if anything, to assure the Defendants future compliance with the
Clean Water Act and provisions of Arkansas law; and (b) does not provide for adequate protection of the water supply sources for over 750,000 citizens of the United States of America and the State of Arkansas."
CAW said the agreement should be withdrawn or renegotiated because it is inadequate. The pipeline runs through the Lake Maumelle watershed. CAW notes a large fine is included and some additional measures for reacting to future spills. But reactive measures aren't enough, it said.
The consent decree provides that the pipeline here be considered as susceptible to seam failure. But CAW comments this unacceptable because:
... the Defendants knew the Pegasus pipeline was subject to seam failures no later than 2006, and likely as early as 1991. In 2006, the Pegasus pipeline suffered multiple seam failures during testing, and the Defendants did nothing to prevent future seam failures – as evidenced by the Mayflower spill. PHMSA has clearly stated that the longitudinal seams failures that occurred during testing “provided more than adequate information for the pipe to be considered susceptible to seam failure.” The Defendants, knowing the Pegasus pipeline was subject to seam failures, put the pipeline back into operation, and refused to treat the pipeline as “susceptible to longitudinal seam failure” thereby putting the water supply sources for three-quarters of a million people in Arkansas in serious jeopardy. Therefore, this specific relief accomplishes nothing; it is a throw away, mere fluff.
CAW has other objections, but proposes alternatives, beginning with relocation of the line from the watershed. The line is currently empty and no plans have been announced for restarting the line.
The consent decree was filed April 22.
Central Arkansas Water made these filings today.
Here are the full comments regarding the consent decree.
An executive summary of its views.