Arkansas: Exxon Pipeline Ruptures Befouling Small Town


B. McPherson
This could come to your neighbourhood too.

An old oil pipeline threading through a small town in Arkansas ruptured Friday spewing thousands of barrels of diluted bitumen(dilbit) on houses and yards. Twenty-two homes had to be evacuated with no word as to when it is safe for the people to return.

The Exxon Pegasus pipeline was installed in the 1940s. Originally it carried refined oil but had been converted to carry oil sands product south for refining. Critics of the plans by oil companies to carry dilbit in pipelines, point out that the flow under pressure acts much like sandpaper would on the interior of the pipes, continuously scouring the metal. The continuing corrosive action of the product is expected to cause more pipeline ruptures.

While Exxon has declined to give a figure as to how much product had leaked from the broken pipe, they have stated that 12 000 barrels of oil and water have been recovered.

Exxon spokesperson has stated that the air is not dangerous in Mayflower except where the oil has pooled, the light elements in petroleum such as benzene are known cancer causers. If you can smell it, it is already into your body.  Before the high pressure pipeline was shut down, black sludge was seen running down the town’s streets into storm drains. The area befouled by the old pipe provides drinking water for 400 000 people in the area. The pipeline, capable of carrying 90 000 barrels a day runs through Lake Maumelle.

Exxon has yet to dig up the section of pipeline where the break occurred. Cleanup of the poisoned land has not begun. The damage done to individuals’ property, to public health and to the environment has not been assessed. While the US feds sometime assess fines, the individuals seeking recompense often are ignored or bullied into accepting their losses. Currently BP is fighting those who seek redress in the massive Gulf of Mexico blow out. Exxon has just been fined $1.7 million for an oil spill into the Yellowstone River which fouled miles of water. Makes me wonder how much money they earn in an hour. 

This latest poisoning of the land gives more impetus to those who are seeking to stop the construction of the Keystone Pipeline which would bring dilbit to the Texas refineries. Those opposing the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline through British Columbia will be more determined to stop the poisoning of the land and waters by BigOil for profit. 

If you build it, it will leak

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