The Mayflower oil spill continues to make headlines | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Mayflower oil spill continues to make headlines

Posted By on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 11:44 AM

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The ExxonMobil pipeline break that drenched a Mayflower subdivision with tens of thousands of gallons of tar sand-like heavy crude from Canada continues to stir media.

From environmental groups:

Starting today, consumer watchdog organization, SumOfUs.org, in partnership with Oil Change International and Environmental Action will be placing ads in the DC metro system exposing images from the ExxonMobil tar sands pipeline spill last month in Arkansas that devastated the suburban town of Mayflower. The ads will run for one month at the Foggy Bottom metro station while the State Department considers revising its draft environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, after over one million comments opposing construction of the pipeline were submitted.

Photos here, include the one shown at top.

* I mentioned earlier this local event this afternoon (somehow, I don't think this has Rep. Griffin's seal of approval, given his friendliness to the oil industry, but ... ):

On the one month anniversary of a devastating pipeline rupture that sent tar sands spewing through a residential neighborhood, residents of Mayflower, Arkansas are launching a new “Remember Mayflower, Arkansas” effort with a press conference call at 1pm CT/2pm CT to raise awareness of the spill and to tell elected officials to stand with Congressman Griffin in saying that tar sands oil and water don’t mix.

The coalition—composed of local families and leaders—will release new poll findings about tar sands pipelines and unveil a new ad.

Their message to local elected officials and those along the pipeline route: tar sands oil and water don’t mix.

WHO: Mayflower residents Emily Lane, Emily Harris, and Ryan Senia, local organizer JP Strother and other Mayflower families
WHAT: “Remember Mayflower, Arkansas” launch press call
WHEN: TODAY, April 29 at 1pm CT/2pm ET

CORRECTION: Ryan Senia said he did not participate in the event and was not associated with the organization, despite what the news release said.

UPDATE: That poll, by PPP Polling, shows that 60 percent of those surveyed think tar sands should be kept away from water supplies. Also, another one-month anniversary by the Sierra Club and others in the Stand With Mayflower coalition is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at Pearce Park in Mayflower, also a rally against the Keyston XL Pipeline.

* Speaking of Tim "Pipeline" Griffin, he's got oil his mind, too. From his latest newsletter:

On April 21, I visited Mayflower again. I was accompanied by Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. We spoke with officials at Unified Command about the oil spill cleanup and what can be done to minimize risks in the future.

He's still a pipeline advocate, but says he does think it might be a good thing to move the Pegasus pipeline out of the Lake Maumelle watershed, given the steep terrain that drains right into a bowl full of currently clean water that serves a half-million people.

CLEANUP CONTINUES: In Mayflower.
  • CLEANUP CONTINUES: In Mayflower.

* Then there's the latest from the Mayflower Unified Command, in theory a cooperative effort of authorities and Exxon, but, for PR purposes, Exxon-run. (The Unified Command distributed the photo above.) The latest news release says residents of the oil-fouled neighborhood should be soon able to move back home (if they don't want to sell them to Exxon) and that air and water samples continue to look clean. The release in full follows a report from David Koon on the afternoon conference call:

BY DAVID KOON:

The new grassroots group "The Remember Mayflower Coalition" held a conference call today, to coincide with the one-month anniversary of the Mayflower spill, during which they released preliminary information from independent air and water testing in the areas around the Northwoods subdivision. A ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline spilled at least 200,000 gallons of Canadian crude into a subdivision there, with the oil running under the interstate and fouling a cove of Lake conway.

Organizer J.P. Strother said that their grassroots group believes it's vitial that the Pegasus pipeline should be moved out of the Lake Maumelle watershed. He thanked U.S. Congressman Tim Griffin for working to move the pipeline out of the watershed. Emily Harris, executive board member with the Faulkner County Citizen's Advisory Group, said there has been "a serious lack of information and community outreach" on ExxonMobil's part since the spill.

"As long as the current Pegasus pipeline stays where it is, we should expect more of the same," Harris said. "We need to demand a better response plan with new and more appropriate technology, personal protection equipment for our first responders, and information for our vulnerable populations. We have to improve the community notification process and share information in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner to these people who are really suffering from a lack of information."

April Lane, with the Faulkner County Citizen's Advisory Group and project manager of the Faulkner County Bucket Brigade, said that air sampling paid for by the groups Global Community Monitor(http://www.gcmonitor.org) and the Coming Clean Network found varying results over three days of sampling between March 30 and April 3. Lane said that the March 30 sampling detected over two dozen chemicals in the air. "Many of these chemicals that we detected are carcinogens and can also be cancer causing agents," Lane said. She said that follow-up testing on April 2 showed "dramatically lower" levels of harmful compounds, and testing on April 3 didn't pick up anything harmful. She said the result on 3 could have been due to windy conditions that day. Lane said a full list of the chemicals detected in the March 30 sample will be available soon. She said they weren't able to conduct more testing since April 3 because their funding for the project had run out.

Moving on to the question of whether oil has reached the main body of Lake Conway and Palarm Creek, Lane said: "The preliminary results back from an EPA-certified laboratory show quite clearly that the tar sands oil has reached these areas." Lane said the official report will be available in approximately 10 days, but said the results "clearly identified the fingerprint of the tar sands oil in the main body of the lake and the outflow at Palarm Creek."

Northwoods subdivision resident Jennifer Kirby spoke about being evacuated from the neighborhood following the spill. Kirby, who lives "one street over" from the spill site and who was at home with her 7 month old child when the pipeline ruptured, said she and her family have been staying with family and friends since then, and have decided to put their house on the market after being told by ExxonMobil that they wouldn't be purchasing the house at this time. Kirby said they went back to the house two days ago get some belongings, and while she nor her husband could smell any odor in the air, they both came away from the house with a headache.

"That tells me there's either something in the air or something in our home that's not right," Kirby said.

UNIFIED COMMAND NEWS RELEASE

MAYFLOWER, AR — The Unified Command will be initiating a reentry plan for the evacuated residents in the Northwoods subdivision to safely return to their homes over the next few weeks.

“One month following the spill, we have made significant progress with our recovery efforts in the Northwoods neighborhood and are hopeful we can begin to get residents back into their homes very soon,” said Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson. “We regret that they have been displaced for so long, but we are doing our best to ensure the job is done right and done safely — something that we cannot sacrifice for the sake of expediency.”

Currently, storm drain replacement is taking place on North Starlite Road, including repairing the street and replacing curbs. Once this is done, replacement of trees and landscaping the homes impacted by the cleanup can begin. Evacuated residents are given updated progress reports on a continuous basis.

The reentry plan includes step-by-step activities that evacuated residents should complete inside their homes to prepare for air monitoring and sampling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ExxonMobil will conduct. Final recommendations for reentry will be based on analysis of the results and coordinated by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

Additionally, ExxonMobil continues to honor all valid claims. Any resident that has been impacted by the spill should contact the claims hotline at 1-800-876-9291.

In the cove, heavy debris removal is almost complete. Any remaining visible oil is being cleaned up by work crews. Specific sections of the recovery sites will soon transition to remediation and restoration after thorough inspections by EPA, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and Faulkner County Judge Dodson. The majority of freestanding oil has been cleaned up.

For 28 consecutive days, data from the air monitors in the Mayflower community have shown levels that are either non-detect or below action levels established by ADH. Ongoing air quality monitoring is being conducted by ExxonMobil.

Based on an analysis of all samples taken to date, ADEQ and ExxonMobil have no evidence upon which to conclude that oil from the spill has reached the main body of Lake Conway or Palarm Creek. All air and water data are posted on the ADEQ website at www.adeq.state.ar.us.

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