Officials assess Arkansas oil cleanup

April 16, 2013 at 6:36 AM

MAYFLOWER, Ark., April 16 (UPI) -- Removing a damaged section of Exxon Mobil's Pegasus oil pipeline won't do much to help cleanup efforts in Mayflower, Ark., a county official said.

Crews started removing the damaged section of the pipeline from the ground this week. The pipeline burst March 29, dumping around 5,000 barrels of oil into the surrounding area.

Exxon's pipeline division said drinking water in the region was safe. It told the Environmental Protection Agency the pipeline was carrying a Canadian crude oil, Wabasca Heavy, at the time of the spill.

Canadian crude oil blends may be denser than conventional types, causing it to sink in water. Exxon said a diluent was added to meet pipeline specifications.

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that removing the pipeline won't affect cleanup operations.

"It's a milestone, I think," he said. "But In terms of our cleanup, it really doesn't impact our cleanup at all."

Exxon said it was working to clean residual oil from a nearby wetland area. Dodson said he was satisfied the area would be cleaned adequately.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation. The pipeline was built in the 1940s.

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