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Rally Marks One-Month Anniversary of Oil Spill

Signs blasting ExxonMobil and trumpeting clean energy were held high as speakers called for unity during a rally to mark the one-month anniversary of an oil spill that rocked the Mayflower community.
MAYFLOWER, AR -- Signs blasting ExxonMobil and trumpeting clean energy were held high as speakers called for unity during a rally to mark the one-month anniversary of an oil spill that rocked the Mayflower community.

"In this crowd tonight are people from Mayflower, from Conway, from Greenbrier, from Little Rock, from other parts of the state," said Glen Hooks of the Arkansas Sierra Club.   "As Arkansas we feel sorry for the people of Mayflower."

Some even invoked scripture in a plea to protect the environment from the devastation of oil spills.

"'For in Him we live and move and have our being," said Elizabeth Minton of the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance.

A month after oil began gushing from a broken pipeline in the Northwoods subdivision crews are still working to replace tarred stormwater drains.

The extent of damage in a marsh that feeds Lake Conway where oil ended up is still not entirely known.

Speakers at Monday's rally urged local, state and federal officials to press ExxonMobil to release more information.

"As Arkansans we want the truth about the risks posed to our air, our water, our health and our environment," Hooks said.

Northwoods resident speaks

With legal battles potentially looming we agreed to not disclose the resident's name so she could speak freely about her family's situation.

On March 29th they were just settling into a home they'd bought six months prior in the Northwoods subdivision.  That's when the woman got a call from her husband saying oil was flowing through the streets.

"We packed up what we could in 30 minutes and got out," she said.

That was one month ago. The woman, her husband and their infant child haven't lived at home since, and they've decided they never will.

"I'm not gonna tell my little girl she cannot go play with another neighbor because I'm worried about the lasting impacts," she said.

The family lives one block away from the massive cleanup effort to remove sticky crude from yards and gutters. Now, they're faced with trying to sell their home.

"They kind of laughed," she said about her first conversation with a realtor.

ExxonMobil has promised to buy 11 homes that oil crossed as it flowed away from the subdivision, but for the other 51 homes in Northwoods things are a lot less clear.

ExxonMobil has said those residents must put their homes up for sale if they want to move.  If there are no buyers, Exxon says it will step in and purchase homes.  But residents and realtors say they aren't sure how long they will have to wait for that to happen.


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