Thursday, May 16, 2013

The forgotten in Exxon County, Arkansas

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

WIDE LOAD: Heavy equipment occasionally got stuck on narrow Joseph Road during oil spill cleanup, a resident says.
  • Diane Wilson
  • WIDE LOAD: Heavy equipment occasionally got stuck on narrow Joseph Road during oil spill cleanup, a resident says.

The Northwood subdivision in Mayflower has gotten most of the attention in the Canadian tar sands crude spill that flowed from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline. But those property owners are not alone with claims of damage from the oil spill and airborne chemicals and damage in the cleanup effort itself.

One is Diane Wilson, who lives nearby and who says her repeated efforts to get corrective action from Exxon officials have been futile. She writes and supplies the photos here, which were taken from the front door of her home:

I live on Joseph Road. Most people don’t know this road is there. We are off the I-40 service road on Joseph Road. ExxonMobil has been using Joseph Road to access the spill at Dawson Cove. We are that close to the spill yet no one came to evacuate the area. We knew something happened because the odor was so strong we were all sick. We didn’t know if it was a gas leak in town or a wreck on the interstate until the next day.

We watched as the mass of people came down our one-lane gravel road with equipment and vehicles. It felt like an invasion. I have never been afraid of an occupation. Now I know how it feels. ExxonMobil blocked off my road from my neighbors and would not let me down the street I live on. I was backed down my own road to allow huge equipment the right of way. The roads are so rutted it is hard to travel. I have no property value now because of the stigma attached to the oil spill and our proximity to it. ExxonMobil workers blocked both my drives to my house three times. Workers vehicles lined my road and strangers came and went 24/7.

Everything is slowing down now. There is not as much traffic on my road in front of my house. The road is contaminated from ExxonMobil driving equipment out of the spill in the wetland and down my road before the wash stations were built. The deer and turkey, all the wildlife, are gone. ExxonMobil’s newsletter says everything is almost cleaned up and they will leave the area as it was before. All I see is a mud hole and rutted and ruined roads. My once quaint beautiful neighborhood carries the stigma of being at the oil spill.

Can anyone tell us what the plan is? So much attention has been paid the Northwood Subdivision and understandably so, but we would like a little information as well. What about OUR property value, what about our cove and wetland area? What is the end game? The plan?

ExxonMobil did not mind using our road, our neighborhood for their access to the spill, but they sure don’t want to acknowledge any responsibility to the residents.

Diane Wilson
46 Joseph Road
Mayflower

I've sent some questions about Wilson's complaint to the Exxon PR team. (Coincidentally, Benji Hardy who blogs for the Legislative Digest has a post up about the nearly non-existent state response to pipeline damage and peril, a notable exception being Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.)

UPDATE: A response from Amber Gardner of Exxon's PR team:

Per your inquiry below, we regret that this incident has occurred and apologize for any disruption and inconvenience that it has caused. Property owners along the Cove are able to address any harm they feel they have incurred due to the spill through the claims process. We will continue to honor all valid claims.

Any damage to roads or property owners' landscaping by our cleanup operations will be repaired. We have been in direct communication with Ms. Wilson and we are working to address her specific concerns.


HEAVY TRAFFIC: A stream of vehicles have used Joseph Road to reach cleanup sites.
  • Diane Wilson
  • HEAVY TRAFFIC: A stream of vehicles have used Joseph Road to reach cleanup sites.

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