09 April 2013 00:14 [Source: ICIS news]
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HOUSTON (ICIS)--ExxonMobil said on Monday it has begun preparing the Pegasus pipeline for excavation following the 29 March rupture and oil spill that forced the evacuation of 22 homes in Mayflower, Arkansas.
Work started on Sunday on preparing the pipeline near the break so that the affected section can be excavated and cut out, the company said. A plan has been submitted for review by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
ExxonMobil said cleanup operations have progressed to where four residents have been given the option to move back into their homes.
“The residents of the remaining 18 homes will be given the option to return in phases as their properties are cleaned,” the company said.
Meanwhile, an ExxonMobil spokesperson declined to comment on a class-action lawsuit filed last week against the US energy giant for the incident.
“We do not comment on legal matters,” Kim Jordan said.
Kathryn Chunn and Kimla Greene on Friday filed the complaint to US District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas on behalf of themselves and others similarly affected.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $5m (€3.85m) in damages.
“This Arkansas class-action lawsuit involves the worst crude oil and tar sands spill in Arkansas history and directly impacts all individuals who reside by the ExxonMobil Pegasus Pipeline,” the court document said.
“Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to recover for a permanent diminishment in property value for being located near the unsafe and defective pipeline on behalf of all property owners similarly situated throughout the state of Arkansas who are in close proximity to the Pegasus Pipeline,” it added.
In its update on Saturday, ExxonMobil estimated that about 27,000 bbl of oily water has been recovered and that 5,000 bbl of oil was spilled in the incident, adding that a final estimate will be released once the line has been repaired and refilled.
The company said that much of the free-standing oil has been recovered, and most of the impacted soil has been removed from the six homes impacted by the spill.
The main body of Lake Conway remains oil free, and there has been no impact on the drinking water supply, ExxonMobil added.
On Friday, the Arkansas attorney general’s office gave ExxonMobil a deadline of 10 April to produce investigative reports, inspection documents and other information connected to the incident.
ExxonMobil also was issued an order from the DOT that requires the company to take “necessary corrective action to protect public, property and the environment from potential hazards” associated with the incident, said the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
ExxonMobil must obtain written approval from the director of PHMSA’s southwest region before the Pegasus pipeline can return to service.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has categorised the incident as a major spill, and a number of federal, state and local agencies are assisting ExxonMobil with response efforts.
The cause of the spill is under investigation, the company has said.
($1 = €0.77)
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