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Mayflower Unified Command Says 'Significant Progress' Made in Oil Spill Cleanup

Command says after two months of response efforts, significant progress has been achieved in cleaning up the areas of Mayflower impacted by the March 29th breach of the Pegasus Pipeline.
MAYFLOWER, AR -- Mayflower Unified Command has issued the following news release regarding the cleanup process following the March 29 oil spill in the Northwoods subdivision:


After two months of response efforts, significant progress has been achieved in cleaning up the areas of Mayflower impacted by the March 29th breach of the Pegasus Pipeline.
  • Cleanup crews have removed all visible freestanding oil from the environment.
  • The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has deemed the indoor air sampling results from the initial set of evacuated Northwoods residences to be below hazardous levels.
  • The Unified Command has determined after thorough inspections that enough progress has been achieved in the marsh and cove areas east of Interstate I-40 to shift from emergency response to the more focused efforts of remediation.
While recognizing there is more work to do, the Unified Command is grateful for all who have dedicated time and effort to deliver these results.  It also thanks those who continue to be affected for their patience.
 
Reflecting on the progress achieved, Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland said, “The cleanup process has progressed rather smoothly thanks to the knowledge, leadership and expertise of a number of people.  We have all worked together like a great team.”
 
Northwoods Subdivision
As of May 28, voluntary air sampling recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the ADH has been completed in 13 homes in Northwoods.  The sampling is being done to ensure airborne chemicals that may result from the oil spill are not present in indoor air above levels of concern. Indoor air quality is measured by placing summa canisters in the home for a 24-hour period after the removal of any household items or products that might emit chemicals similar to what crude oil contains.  The sampling is being conducted by third-party contractors commissioned by the EPA and ExxonMobil.
 
“The 24-hour sampling process approved by federal, state and local agencies is considered a best practice since it provides results that can be compared to health-based screening levels, thus providing context for understanding what the results mean for the residents,” said Nicolas Brescia of the EPA, the Unified Command’s federal on-scene coordinator.
 
At present, ADH has evaluated the results from the first six homes tested and found, based on health comparison levels and site-specific exposure risk calculations, that all chemicals of concern detected in the homes were below levels expected to be a public health hazard.  The ADH will begin meeting with the homeowners to explain their individual results.
 
Outdoor monitoring data continue to show levels that are either non-detect or below action levels established by ADH.  The data are quality reviewed by ADH prior to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) posting the complete outdoor monitoring data at www.adeq.state.ar.us.
 
Due to these results, Unified Command has determined it is no longer necessary to conduct daily sampling of outdoor air quality.
 
Within Northwoods along North Starlite Road, crews have finished replacing the storm drain, and curb and driveway replacement is nearing completion.  Once this work and soil sampling (to determine where additional remediation might be required) are completed, replacement of trees, sod and landscaping at affected properties will commence.  At the end of all heavy work, damaged roads in the area will be repaved.
 
Marsh/Cove East of I-40
In the marsh and cove area, cleanup operations have moved from emergency response to remediation, following detailed inspections from Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson and representatives from EPA, ADEQ and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).
 
”We have made a lot of progress toward returning the marsh and cove to their original state in just two months,” said Judge Dodson.  “A lot of hard work and attention at all levels contributed to the results to-date.”
 
In the marsh area, crews have finished applying hydro-seed to the impacted areas as part of the re-vegetation process. The hydro-seed being used is the same mixture used by AGFC and the Arkansas Highway Department. The hydro-seeding has benefited from consistent rains since its application, and regrowth of the marsh is already visible from I-40.
 
Ongoing water sampling in the cove and Lake Conway continue to show results that are either non-detect or below levels of concern.  These results also are posted on ADEQ’s Web site.
 
Next Phase
As progress continues, the coming months will see the conclusion of the emergency response efforts as all remaining areas of the cleanup operations move into remediation, monitoring and maintenance.
 
“Progress continues, but we know our work is not complete,” said Mark Weesner, ExxonMobil incident commander.  “We will be here until the job is done.
 
“While I know you have heard us say it many times before, we truly regret the spill continues to impact many in the community and are appreciative of everyone’s continued patience.  We are working hard to get the job done as quickly and safely as possible.”

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