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Congressional Leader Tours Mayflower Spill Site

MAYFLOWER, AR -- The head of a powerful congressional committee visited Mayflower Sunday to get a look at the community where a pipeline burst March 29th spilling thousands of barrels of crude oil.
MAYFLOWER, AR -- The head of a powerful congressional committee visited Mayflower Sunday to get a look at the community where a pipeline burst March 29th spilling thousands of barrels of crude oil.

As head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Hollidaysburg) oversees the nation's pipeline system that includes the 20-inch Pegasus line that that flows through Central Arkansas.

"We'll figure out what happened and make sure they make corrections so it doesn't happen again,"  Shuster said, speaking of ExxonMobil which owns Pegasus.

Shuster was joined by fellow Republican Congressman Tim Griffin(R-Little Rock) for a tour of the spill site.  The pair was accompanied by local leaders and federal investigators who are looking into what caused the spill. 

Experts said the more than 60-year-old pipeline appears to have ruptured along a welded seam, a problem that's happened before with aging pipelines.

Still, Congressman Shuster said he's confident in the government's oversight of the pipeline industry.

"It is the safest way to transport hazardous materials," he said.

Asked whether there needed to be a new assessment of pipeline infrastructure, Shuster pointed to a 2011 bill he sponsored that aimed to improve pipeline safety.

"[Pipeline companies have] their plans in place to upgrade their systems where it's necessary," he said.

The bill increased the limit on fines for companies who fail to abide by safety regulations, but it was criticized by some for not going far enough to insure spills are prevented.

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