90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
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. 


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Kay

    I’m very upset that our politicians continue to accept huge amounts of money from the big oil companies.   Type in your zip code and see how much your politician has accepted from the big oil companies.  A bill has been introduced in Arkansas that would give eminent domain to pipeline oil companies.  Enough is enough!  Quit electing these politicians that have tied their wagon to religion for political gain.  Please keep an eye on our elected officials.  Shame on you Mark Pryor.  You are one of them now.  Hope you enjoy that money.   http://www.dirtyenergymoney.com/view.php?searchvalue=71603&com=&can=&zip=&search=1&type=search#view=connections

  • aknman49

    I live near the Canadian border and listen to CBC about half the time, so I hear much more about the XL (and various other pipeline proposals, like Enbridge- Northern Gateway, Portland-Montreal, Trans-Mountain, Pacific Trails,  etc ) than most Americans.  

    This morning’s “The Current” on CBC radio spent 15 minutes on the Arkansas spill, for instance, including a lengthy defense of K-XL by Alberta government Minister Cal Dallas (quite the appropriate name, eh?) who was in a win-win situation, as he sees it:
    The Pegasus pipeline, he says,  is victim of age and outdated technology and argues the need for newer, more spill-resistant pipelines.  Of course, had there NOT been a spill, he would have argued that they need a new pipeline to prevent a possible leak.  Win-Win!
    Here are a few facts that often get overlooked in the discussion over Keystone I hear from American media:

    1) The current Keystone (the older “non-XL” version) pipeline still doesn’t operate at capacity. Refineries in Oklahoma and Texas cannot handle all that it could carry, even now.  So many refineries have been closed, those left are operating at near-capacity.  Add to that the fact that  Athabascan oil-sands crude is harder to process.  It didn’t start out as oil but tar.  That requires re-tooling that most refineries are reluctant to make.

    2) The heavy push by the Harper government for pipelines like Enbridge and TransCanada is all about Canadian budget politics.  The Canadian Prime Minister (he represents SW Calgary which is Canada’s answer to Houston) has made budgetary concerns his very top priority and the numbers aren’t adding-up as he’d hoped.  He promised a balanced national budget by 2015 and it just ain’t going to happen. A massive new resource-export device like XL will immensely help his goal.   He is also so dedicated to improving the Canadian export position that other long-standing Canadian regulations and science and environmental reviews and even human rights policy have been sacrificed to attain that target.

    3) Forget that talk about XL being critical to “North American energy independence.”  Like it or not, fracking has put the U.S. on the road to energy self-sufficiency even without a drop of tar sands oil.  This is (see item 2) all about economics, not energy policy.

    4) Also forget that talk about the pipeline creating thousands of new jobs.  Sure, the construction project will involve a lot of contractors for a few weeks-to-months, but the number of long-term jobs it creates is, according to best studies, about three dozen.  

    5) The “new technology” this pipeline will employ isn’t all that new.  “Pigs” and monitors and welding techniques Trans-Canada intends to use have been employed by the Trans-Alaska pipeline for decades now and that’s one pipeline the oil industry desperately wants NOT to be in the news, and yet there have been dozens of incidents.  XL will be no different.

    6) Athabascan tar-sands crude is really crude crude. It takes considerable amounts of added chemical agents and lots of heat to make it move. While the raw crude isn’t extraordinarily caustic when it comes out of the “ground” (via steam extracting technology), it certainly will be by the time it enters the pipeline at Hardisty, AB.

  • Edge3115

    Your report failed to mention that the heavy tar sands oil takes more pressure to transport; hence, it will go farther when there’s a rupture in the line.  It is common  for oil companies to forego pipeline maintenance as the spills and subsequent fines are less than it costs to shut down the pipeline or to purchase the ‘pig’ required for testing. In addition they have to employ someone who can interpret the results of the pipeline report from the pig.  Oil company history is dreadful in this respect, and oil companies have been known to lie about what has actually  transpired in any case.

  • jefe68

    The question I have is who builds homes on top of a huge oil pipeline?

Robin and Jeremy

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

September 1 4 Comments

Breastfeeding Gets A Boost From Philadelphia Hospitals

The city's major birthing hospitals have stopped sending new moms home with baby formula, to encourage breastfeeding.

August 29 Comment

World Championship Tug-Of-War Is ‘A Thing Of Beauty’

This weekend's competition in Wisconsin is a bit more intense than it was in your grade school gym class.

August 29 Comment

Repelling Mosquitoes With A Natural Sticky Patch

The Kite Patch releases odors that block the bug's carbon dioxide receptors, sending them in another direction.

August 28 3 Comments

Catching Up With The Polyphonic Spree

The choral rock band out of Dallas, Texas, has been thrilling audiences with its live performances for over a decade.