Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Boozman, Pryor and Griffin push feds to release Mayflower spill reports

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Sens. John Boozman and Mark Pryor and Rep. Tim Griffin have requested that the federal agency that regulates pipelines make information related to the Pegasus pipeline and the spill public. Their letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is on the jump.

Today's letter comes a day after they and other representatives of Central Arkansas Water received a letter from ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. rebuffing their efforts to get information about Exxon's Pegasus pipeline, which runs through the Lake Maumelle watershed. One of Exxon's excuses for not turning over information was that PHMSA is in charge of all reports related to the spill.

But in a June 21 letter to then-CAW chair Carmen Smith the Times got today through a Freedom of Information request, the head of PHMSA said Exxon had requested confidential treatment of at least two of the inspection reports the congressmen and CAW want released. Cynthia Quarterman, the administrator of PHMSA, said in the letter that her agency was reviewing Exxon's objections to releasing the reports. Maybe today's letter will speed the review process along. Or maybe Exxon and PHMSA can come up with creative new ways to blame the other for not releasing anything.

UPDATE: As Max noted in the open line, a spokesperson for Rep. Tim Griffin said all federal office holders had received the same data from PHMSA and that all "stakeholders" -- local, state and federal -- have inspection data. That still doesn't include Central Arkansas Water, according to watershed protection manager John Tynan, who said by text, "PHMSA sent the detailed info to congressional offices and not local folks. It was shared with us through one of those offices, but after clarifying that PHMSA did not intend to share with us due to proprietary issues, we didn't keep the records because of potential legal issues associated with retaining it."

Enclosed are our two letters to ExxonMobil requesting information regarding the Pegasus Pipeline failure in Mayflower, Arkansas, and ExxonMobil’s recent response. The ExxonMobil letter states:

“While the investigation is on-going, it is PHMSA that defines the timing, type and amount of investigative information to share with appropriate stakeholders and the general public.”

We believe that in the interest of full transparency, PHMSA should publish on its website the ExxonMobil 2010 and 2013 in-line inspection reports, the 2006 hydrostatic test report, and the 2013 metallurgical report. If PHMSA cannot take this action, we would like to know the statutory requirement preventing PHMSA from acting in the public interest.

The citizens of Arkansas have a right to know the results of these tests. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

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