US agency approves ExxonMobil's excavation plan after oil spill

10 April 2013 00:05  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved ExxonMobil’s excavation and removal plan for the affected portion of the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured on 29 March and resulted in an oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, the US energy giant said on Tuesday.

Work started on Sunday in preparing the pipeline near the break for excavation and removal, ExxonMobil said.

The company said that the cleanup effort continued as response crews developed contingency plans to deal with severe storms forecast for Wednesday.

“Storm preparations include securing equipment and strengthening a containment system protecting the main body of Lake Conway by installing additional boom in an adjacent cove,” ExxonMobil said.

“Arrangements have been made to shelter cleanup workers if necessary,” it added.

Four residents were given the option on Monday to move back into their homes, while the remaining 18 will be given the option to return in phases as their properties are cleaned.

In Tuesday’s update, ExxonMobil said about 28,000 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.

Last week, two residents filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, seeking more than $5m (€3.85m) in damages from the incident.

The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office also gave ExxonMobil a deadline of Wednesday 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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By: Tracy Dang
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