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April 22 Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Mayflower Oil Spill

Public invited to day-long event at Faulkner County Natural Resource Center.
CONWAY, AR - A town hall meeting is being held on Monday to discuss the Mayflower oil spill.

The day-long event is being sponsored by a local citizens group.

It begins at 8:30 that morning and the public is invited.

Additional details in news release below:
Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group (FCCAG), whose mission is to promote community health and all-hazard preparedness, is hosting an interactive Town Hall event to discuss the on-going oil disaster in Mayflower.  The event will take place on Earth Day, April 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Faulkner County Natural Resource Center located at 110 S. Amity Road in Conway. 

The goal of the event is to facilitate networking and build relationships with the expected outcome of a prioritized list of recommended actions and timeframe for completion.

Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group (FCCAG) received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the support of the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin to share the most recent county health data across the state via the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps (CHR) program (http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/). 

The CHR funding dedicated to Faulkner County will be utilized to host this important Earth Day event. Ms. Emily Harris, MPH; Arkansas state contact for CHR since 2009 and FCCAG Board member will kick off a full day of information sharing. 2013 CHR data shows Faulkner was ranked 3rd highest out of all 75 counties for Overall Health Outcomes. Benton leads the rankings as the most healthy county in Arkansas, while Washington County follows closely as the 2nd most healthy. Overall Health Factors show Faulkner County’s rank as 2nd highest in the state, with only Benton County scoring better. Faulkner County has scored consistently high in the rankings since the national initiation of the well accepted data source.

The full day event will begin with a continental breakfast and warm welcome. Glen Hooks from the Sierra Club will speak of the vitally important responsibility for community mobilization to preserve ecosystems and protect human health. He will have just returned from Nebraska where he is testifying for the Sierra Club at the U.S. State Department against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The planned Keystone pipeline is ten times larger than the Pegasus tar sands pipe that ruptured in Mayflower and is to be constructed to carry dirty Canadian tar sands to the gulf coast for export to foreign countries. Communities along thousands of U.S. miles are at risk, while countless American public drinking water sources are threatened.

In the afternoon session keynote speaker, Scott Smith, will release preliminary results of water column testing in and around Lake Conway.

FCCAG board members will provide a summary of Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality website’s most current data concerning the air, water and soil sampling from the Mayflower Oil Spill.

April Lane, FCCAG School Health and Safety Chairperson will enlighten the audience with the results and analysis of the independent air sampling that was conducted as part of a “Bucket Brigade” project in cooperation with international non-profit organizations, Global Community Monitor and Coming Clean Network.

Before an interactive lunch session, marine toxicologist, Dr. Riki Ott, and environmental scientist, Dr. Wilma Subra, will discuss lessons learned from the 1989 Alaskan Exxon Valdez disaster and the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon well blowout and the devastating aftermath on the Gulf Coast that is still locked in ongoing litigation.

Immediately following the lunch session, director of the HAWK Center, Lynne Slater, will report on the Center’s response to the Mayflower spill as well as other vital work they are doing in the community to rescue and rehabilitate local wildlife. (http://www.facebook.com/hawkcenter)

Arkansans Concerned about Oil Pipelines, a recently formed local community group, will encourage the audience with an update of the good work that ACOP is doing here.  David Lincoln, expert Environmental Geologist representing the Sierra Club of Arkansas with many years of international experience in the petrochemical industry, will discuss your rights and environmental health protection following an oil spill. The afternoon keynote speaker, Scott C. Smith, is a Harvard Business School Graduate and inventor of OPFLEX®, an open-cell, foam technology that is used to quickly and effectively remove oil from water.  Scott provides professional expertise and disaster specific products nationally and internationally. He received the 2008 Phoenix Award for Disaster Recovery. The OPFLEX® is manufactured using 30% less energy than conventional materials, is re-useable up to twenty or more times and has an additive that speeds its biodegradation in a landfill. OPFLEX® materials are able to absorb up to thirty times their weight in oil and easy to deploy. After a successful demonstration in removing tar sands oil going into the Cove portion of Lake Conway in front of Exxon, this material is not being used in the cleanup operations in Mayflower. OPFLEX® technology is effective on all oils, from tar sands to diesel and especially with dangerous oil sheen, subsurface plumes and provides safety for affected wildlife and residents.  Founder and CEO of OPFLEX® Solutions, Scott Smith has freely offered OPFLEX® materials at no cost to effected community members and will provide a live demonstration of the products effectiveness on the veranda of the Faulkner County Natural Resource Center.  

Multiple key players in the Pegasus Pipeline rupture response consisting of staff from various federal, state and local agencies, including the Faulkner County Judge and Office of Emergency Services, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the Health Department, the Department of Emergency Management, Game and Fish Commission, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have all been invited to attend and share information through presentations and display exhibits. None of these agencies have confirmed their attendance; however, the agenda remains open to any additions from the agencies and organizations tasked to protect and serve public health. It was the expectation of the meeting organizers that these key individuals would be in close proximity to the toxic release and would inform the public of any community health safety issues or concerns.
 
Residents of Mayflower and the surrounding areas are highly encouraged to attend, share their experiences about the disaster and meet other effected community members.  Interactive and informative displays will be on exhibit around the conference room and in the lobby, so that attendees can access presenters and information directly.  National and international media outlets including CNN and Korean Broadcasting System will also be in attendance to document the event. 

The affected residents of the Mayflower community have suffered a great tragedy and there is still much to be concerned about this crisis.  The responses from Exxon and the state of Arkansas have yet to properly address the short and long-term adverse effects to the ecosystem and human health.  FC Citizens Advisory Group will continue to strive to connect the affected residents and communities with the public servants responsible to ensure community health and safety. 

The event is open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

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