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Mayflower Residents Affected by Oil Spill Hold 6th Meeting, Learn New Information

Community leaders, doctors take part in discussions.
MAYFLOWER, AR -- It's been nearly six months since a Pegasus pipeline ruptured, sending thousands of barrels of crude oil throughout Mayflower.

On Thursday night, residents held their sixth town hall meeting to get more answers. Community leaders provided new information about the March 29 oil spill.

Concerned residents are thrilled to see more community leaders taking part in discussions.

"We are actually having people who are willing to actually speak instead of 'this is in the middle of a litigation, we don't want anything having to do with it,' " said Genevieve Long, Mayflower Resident.

Long is no stranger to these community forums. She's been patiently waiting for things to turn around in her hometown.

"We're here, we care and we're gonna do whatever we have to do to push out new information that will help everyone," Long said.

At the forum, doctors talked about exposure to toxic chemicals. One even shared his experience working with patients from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and educated Mayflower residents about the effects of chemical exposure and options for treatment.

For the first time, the Arkansas Department of Health talked to the public about its concerns.

However, life remains at a standstill for dozens of people in Mayflower.

"You don't know what your future holds, how sick you'll be in the long term," Ann Jarrell said.

Jarrell's doctor told her she needed to move out of her house for the sake of her health.

"My lungs were infected, they put me on antibiotics," Jarrell said.

Now, she's living out of a suitcase at her friend's house, anxious for Mayflower to return to normal.

"Especially when you make out your house payment and you can't even go there," Jarrell said.

Residents say this is not the last forum. With piling medical bills and the toxic chemicals that remain in Mayflower, they say more help is needed and they need more involvement from the state.

Mayflower residents and homeowners filed two lawsuits against ExxonMobil shortly after the oil spill in March. This month, Central Arkansas Water (CAW) warned ExxonMobil of a pending lawsuit, saying they intend to file a citizen suit in 60 days if a list of six violations are not addressed.

The violations include:
  • Failure to maintain and implement an adequate integrity management program for the portion of the pipeline within the Lake Maumelle watershed
  • Failure to select a pipeline assessment method capable of assessing seam integrity and determining the existence of hook cracks and other anomalies
  • Failure to change its integrity management program to respond to the results of the 2006 hydrotest and to continually evaluate the consequences of a failure in the Lake Maumelle watershed
  • Failure to take adequate measures to mitigate the consequences of a pipeline failure that could affect the Lake Maumelle watershed, including the failure to place a sufficient number of pipeline valves in the watershed
  • Failure to prepare and modify its oil response plans for the Lake Maumelle watershed to take into account that ExxonMobil began transporting diluted bitumen in the pipeline for the first time in 2006.
  • Failure to install adequate leak detection technology along the pipeline route capable of detecting releases in the watershed, and failure to create an emergency notification protocol providing for cross-platform monitoring by CAW's staff
The letter also states that CAW will seek an injunction to prevent restart or continued operation of the pipeline until ExxonMobil corrects the violations of the Pipeline Safety Act.
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