Exxon Documents: Oil Spilled in Mayflower ‘May Cause Cancer’

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MAYFLOWER, AR — Exxon Mobil documents released by the federal agency investigating the spill of an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil into a residential neighborhood spell out a litany of dangerous compounds associated that particular type of crude.

Under a section titled “Potential Health Affects” Exxon Mobil says its so-called Wabasca heavy crude “may cause cancer.”

“If anything happens in the next 10, 20, 50 years of my children’s lives, you think, ‘I wonder if that was caused by any kind of longterm affects from the spill,'” said Chris Harrell, a resident of the Northwoods subdivision where the spill happened.

Another section of the documents warns that the crude is “toxic to aquatic life” and “may cause long term adverse affects in the aquatic environment.”

“That’s a big deal economically for the area, because sport fishing is major here,” said Harrell.

Exxon Mobil declined our request for an on-camera interview Friday.  Over the phone spokesman Alan Jeffers pointed to air and sampling being conducted by the Exxon Mobil and government agencies.

“The levels are below established health action levels,” said Nicolas Brescia with the US E.P.A.

Both the US E.P.A. and Arkansas Department of Health say that means the people of Mayflower are not at risk for the type of health and environmental affects laid out in Exxon Mobil’s report.

“Yeah, that all sounds good,” Harrell said.  “I hope they’re right, but you won’t know.”

Jeffers said Exxon Mobil is committed to continuing its work in Mayflower until the type of threats noted in the report are gone.

Spill timeline update

Exxon Mobil said Friday that while a pumping station and valves were shut down and closed off within 16 minutes of the first alert of a drop in pressure on March 29th, gravity caused oil to keep flowing for more than 12 hours.

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