WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. federal and Arkansas governments said they filed a joint enforcement action against Exxon Mobil for the March rupture of the Pegasus oil pipeline.
About 5,000 barrels of a diluted form of heavy Canadian crude oil spilled from a 22-foot rupture in the Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark. Operator ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. said in a newsletter to Mayflower residents it had removed nearly all of the free-standing oil and had shifted efforts to long-term remediation efforts
The U.S. government, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, filed action with the state government against the company in a federal district court in Little Rock, Ark.
The suit seeks penalties under the Clean Water Act, the Arkansas Hazardous Management Act, the state Water and Air Pollution Control Act and three other causes of action.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said the March 29 spill was disruptive not only to Mayflower residents but also to the state environment.
"As the party responsible for this incident, Exxon is also responsible for the penalties imposed by the state for the damage to our environment and the company should foot the bill for the state's clean-up costs," he said in a statement Thursday.
The complaint said the ruptured pipeline, buried two feet underground, released oil into the neighborhood, a nearby wetland and surrounding waterways. Trace amounts of benzene were reported in early air quality samples.
Pegasus runs about 850 miles from Illinois to Texas. Approximately 1 barrel, or 42 gallons, spilled from the same pipeline in late April in Missouri.
The cause of the incident is still under investigation. The damaged section of the pipeline was removed and replaced, though the pipeline is closed. Remediation efforts are ongoing.
There was no public statement published by Exxon Mobil.