The town of Mayflower, Arkansas, has been struck by a crude oil spill resulting from a pipeline rupture tied to Exxon Mobil, and the people and animals of Mayflower are more than upset with the corporate giant. Here's what you should know about the pipeline rupture, the oil spill, and the disturbing images emerging from the incident:
1. A 65-Year-Old Pipeline Ruptured Last Friday
On Friday, March 29, Exxon's "Pegasus" pipeline (which is able to carry more than 90,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil per day from Patoka, Illinois to Nederland, Texas) was immediately shut down after a leak was discovered.
The leak was found in a subdivision of the pipeline's travel route near the the town of Mayflower, Arkansas. The pipeline is said to measure 900 miles long. At the time of the spill, the "Pegasus" pipeline was carrying and transporting Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude oil.
Reuters reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) investigated the incident. Fifteen vacuum trucks and 33 storage tanks were also on hand to clean up and temporarily store the spilled oil.
2. The Town of Mayflower Was Ravaged by the Spill
Mayflower, Arkansas, was ground zero for the spill. On Sunday, March 30, Reuters reported that Exxon Mobil recovered 12,000 barrels of oil and water. KHTV reported that close to 40 households were forced to evacuate. Faulkner County judge Allen Dodson gave this quote on the cleanup to Reuters:
The freestanding oil on the street has been removed. It's still damp with oil, it's tacky, like it is before we do an asphalt overlay.
A few tweets with photos/videos from the oil spill can be seen below:
In case you're wondering, here's what the Arkansas oil spill looks like in one backyard. Clean in no time I bet! twitter.com/cheneywatch/st…
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) April 1, 2013
— Don Jacyshyn (@djacyshyn) April 2, 2013
— Brook Silva-Braga (@Brook) April 2, 2013
3. Birds and Other Animals Were Coated in Oil; Some Died
The HAWK (Helping Arkansas Wild "Kritters") Center has helped with the oil spill recovery efforts by cleaning and restoring the animals that were laced with the crude fluid. At least two ducks died. Tree Hugger reported that at first, Exxon Mobil spokespeople denied any reports that the oil spill had traveled into Lake Conway's waters. But these pictures of animals that were doused in the oil led people to believe otherwise, since these critters made their residence in Lake Conway:
4. Exxon Was Just Fined for a 2011 Pipeline Oil Spill
Exxon Mobil was hit with a $1.7 million fine by regulators the week before this oil spill occurred. The last spill took place in the Yellowstone River in July 2011, when a few thousand barrels of oil were mistakenly let loose into the river. The Billings Gazette reported:
Late on the evening of July 1, 2011, Exxon Mobil's "Silvertip" pipeline, buried just below the Yellowstone riverbed, was torn apart by debris coursing down the flooded, swollen, fast-moving river. The pipe broke in two and pumped 1,509 barrels of oil — more than 63,000 gallons — into the river before the flow was shut off. The result was miles of oil-soaked shoreline, acres of oil-smeared crops and oil rings painted on everything from trees to birds' bellies to houses. It also led to a $135 million cleanup, $1.6 million in state fines for Exxon and a pending lawsuit against the oil company by a group of landowners affected by the spill.
5. The Arkansas Spill Comes 15 Months After Obama Signed the Pipeline Safety Act
This latest oil spill came 15 months after President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that strengthened the nation's safety regulations for for oil pipelines. The Pipeline Safety Act reauthorized the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within the Transportation department. Stricter fines and tougher regulations for pipelines were also introduced as a part of the Senate's new bill. PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman gave this quote to Fastlane about what the act entails:
We know that domestic energy production and pipeline investments are up and will likely continue to grow. The Pipeline Safety Act gives us the tools to stay ahead of this shifting demand.