FOX16.com

Community Updated On Mayflower Oil Spill

The EPA is now calling the incident a "major spill."
MAYFLOWER, AR -- Sticky crude still flowing through a creek off Highway 365 in Mayflower Saturday, a day after an oil pipeline ruptured spilling an estimated 2,000 barrels before it was plugged. 

The EPA is now calling the incident a "major spill." 

During a community meeting Saturday afternoon at Mayflower High School, residents evacuated from 22 homes in the Northwood subdivision where oil bubbled up in yards, voiced their concerns.

 "We were initially told, 'hey, you're only going to be out for several hours,'" said Shannon Williams. 

"Several hours turned into a couple days. We hear today that we could be out of our home for a week." 

ExxonMobile, which owns the pipeline, said 100 company employees are working cleanup along side local, state and federal crews. EPA officials, monitoring the clean up, said the process will be long and expensive.

"[ExxonMobile] is going have to pick up the free product first," said Nicolas Brescia with the US EPA. "They're going to have to pick up the oiled vegetation after that. They'll do excavation after that."

Heavy rains this morning caused water and oil to breach one of the containment structures set up to protect Lake Conway, but officials said because there were multiple levels of protection, oil never reached the lake.

"It's kind of scary. There's just a lot of unknowns," said Charity Dawson, a Mayflower resident.

Officials are still investigating what caused the pipeline to rupture. 

The EPA said ExxonMobile will be responsible for paying for the cleanup and could face civil penalties.

Local officials say they've been assured they will be reimbursed for the cost of their clean up efforts.

A claims process for residents affected by the spill has been set up as well. Information is available by calling 1-800-876-9291.
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