Progress made in Ark. oil spill cleanup

April 8, 2013 at 8:40 AM
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MAYFLOWER, Ark., April 8 (UPI) -- Residents in Mayflower, Ark., say Exxon Mobil crews responding to a March 29 oil spill are starting to make substantial progress.

Exxon reported an oil spill from its Pegasus oil pipeline in late March. Exxon, in its latest update, said most of the free-standing oil has been removed along with contaminated soil and vegetation.

Jennifer Whittington, an area resident, told local broadcaster KATV that she heard a "big pop" and witnessed a "river of oil" in the area about five minutes later.

"When I came (to the site of the spill) the other week I had to park around (it) so it's looks like they are getting somewhere," she said.

Exxon said last week that it submitted a plan to get the damaged section out of the ground to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a notice to the company last week.

Pipeline regulators estimated at least 3,500 barrels of crude oil spilled from the pipeline, which can carry Canadian crude oil. Exxon said more than 10,000 barrels of an oil and water mixture have been removed from the site of the spill.

Benzene levels were detected in early air samples but Exxon said there's no longer a threat. Drinking water in the area is considered safe as no major migration was reported.

The Arkansas Times last week published a lawsuit filed by two homeowners whose property was soiled by the spill. The suit alleges Pegasus, built more than 60 years ago, was unsafe and lowered the value of surrounding property.

Exxon hasn't commented on the suit.

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