Air Quality Pegasus Pipeline Spill

Published on August 18th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás


Residents Of Mayflower, Arkansas Look Back On Pegasus Pipeline Spill

August 18th, 2013 by  

Lies, misinformation from corporations and public officials, and silence. That’s what residents of Mayflower, Arkansas say they’re fighting against in trying to ascertain and clean up the damage caused by the spring’s ExxonMobil oil spill. The spill occurred when the Pegasus pipeline ruptured, dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude into a residential neighborhood. You can read the whole story regarding the current struggle, originally published on Gas2, below.

ExxonMobil Hopes You’ve Forgotten About Mayflower, Arkansas and the Pegasus Pipeline

On March 29th, ExxonMobil’s Pegasus oil pipeline ruptured, pouring (what ExxonMobil said was) 200,000 gallons of oil into Mayflower, Arkansas. Now, months later, the residents of Mayflower are trying to sift through the lies and misinformation to find out exactly what’s happened to them, and what — of anything — they’ll be able to do about it.

“For days, the stench blowing from the sour heavy Canadian crude was rank,” explains the Arkansas Times. “Burning tires,” is what one resident, Ann Jarrell, called it. “It was just putrid. You’d smell it and you would gag.”

No one, though, told Ann that the smell was anything to worry about. On the contrary, in fact! When Ann called the Mayflower police to ask whether she was in danger, a man on the other end told her she was merely noticing an additive meant to alert people to a leak (similar to the non-toxic chemical that gives natural gas its “rotten potato” aroma). A few days later, an Exxon employee working on the cleanup came near her house told her not to fret. “I didn’t know what we were breathing in was toxic,” she said. “Nobody was giving us any information.”

ExxonMobil was Lying

Jarrell stayed put in her house. Only in late April would she learn about a report by a Louisiana firm called the Subra Co., that the “Wabasca Heavy Crude” that Exxon was forcing through the Pegasus pipeline needed “a formidable shot of lubricating chemicals, called diluents, to grease its passage.” The brew, it turned out, was brimming with polyaromatic hydrocarbons, carcinogens that causes a range of sicknesses with acute exposure.

In the days after the pipe rupture, air monitoring tests show that the surrounding neighborhood showed dangerous levels of benzene and possibly harmful levels of octane, cyclohexane, heptane, and hexane, along with detectible levels of toluene, butane, pentane, and several other industrial chemicals. Some sources claim that it’s impossible, at this point, to say how much of what spilled were these polyaromatic hydrocarbons, but even conservative estimates would place the number in the tens of thousands of gallons of poison in the town’s air.

Many people in the neighborhood, like Jarrell, didn’t understand the risks. Outside the Northwoods subdivision of Mayflower, where 22 of 62 homes were marked for mandatory evacuation, there’s scant evidence that anyone from Exxon, the Environmental Protection Agency or the state Department of Health showed any urgency to notify residents that they were breathing an unknown quantity of known poisons. No one involved seemed to care, and — many in Mayflower believe — they still don’t.

Are you surprised that a big oil company like ExxonMobil lied to the residents of Mayflower? Are you surprised that they may have cut corners in their cleanup — assuming they even know what’s really running through their pipelines?

You shouldn’t be.

Let’s not forget about Mayflower, Arkansas, and let’s all remember what’s really at stake here as millions of Americans find themselves endangered by the ridiculous teabilly nonsense that is Canadian shale oil and the Keystone XL pipeline. Share and Like, people — and head over to the original article for more photos and local interviews.

Source | Photos: the Arkansas Times.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • Chemistry

    Benzene, Tolune, Cylclohexane, Pentane, and Butane are not PAHs.

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