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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ark. AG Plans To Open Investigation Into Oil Spill

This video shows oil flooding a neighborhood in Mayflower, Ark. (YouTube)

The Arkansas attorney general said Tuesday that he will investigate the cause and impact of an oil spill after an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured last week.

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel also is asking ExxonMobil to preserve all documents and information related to Friday’s oil spill and ongoing cleanup efforts in Mayflower, a small city about 20 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Crews have recovered about 12,000 barrels of oil and water since the Pegasus pipeline started leaking. Investigators are still working to determine what caused the spill, which led authorities to evacuate nearly two dozen homes.

“It’s obvious that the rupture was not the fault of the state and the state has been damaged in addition to the private property owners,” McDaniel told reporters Tuesday.

In a letter to ExxonMobil officials dated Tuesday, McDaniel said he believes the company may have liability for the consequences of the spill under the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Act and other applicable laws.

“There are many questions and concerns remaining as to the long-term impacts, environmental or otherwise, from this spill,” McDaniel wrote.

Some of the environmental effects began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds had been found since the oil spill.

McDaniel said he has communicated with attorneys general in other states that have seen larger spills, including Louisiana and Mississippi.

“We don’t want to overreact, but obviously a prudent response would require investigating the cause and determining what remedies are available and appropriate for the state,” McDaniel told reporters.

ExxonMobil spokeswoman Kim Jordan said the company will cooperate with McDaniel’s office.

The pipeline that ruptured dates back to the 1940s, according to ExxonMobil, and is part of the Pegasus pipeline that carries crude oil from the Midwest to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • If residents find oiled birds, they can call 1-800-876-9291. 

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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