Arkansas Utility Wants U.S. to Uphold Exxon Mobil Spill-Related Fines

February 4, 2016

A water utility company in Arkansas is urging a federal regulatory agency to uphold fines and new safety requirements for Exxon Mobil Corp. regarding an oil spill in Mayflower.

In a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Central Arkansas Water said Exxon Mobil doesn’t understand the weight of the situation.

Central Arkansas Water spokesman John Tynan said Exxon Mobil is also using various tactics to evade federal regulations.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Christian Flathman declined to comment on the letter in an email to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

But Flathman said subsidiary Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. doesn’t have “immediate plans for submitting a remedial work plan,” a necessary step to resuming the pipeline’s operation.

“In the meantime, we will continue to ensure that the maintenance and any future operation of this pipeline remains in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations,” Flathman said.

The company’s Pegasus pipeline, which was built in the 1940s, cracked open in March 2013, sending heavy crude through Mayflower’s Northwoods subdivision, drainage ditches and Lake Conway cove.

The pipeline safety administration fined Exxon Mobil more than $2.5 million in October after ruling the company had committed nine violations dealing with safety practices. The federal agency also ordered the company to modify its safety program to adequately identify risks. Exxon Mobil appealed.

Central Arkansas Water has asked the safety administration to reject the appeal, saying the agency’s fines and orders are already “woefully inadequate.”

The majority of the 850-mile-long pipeline has stayed shut down since the spill. Central Arkansas Water has repeatedly urged Exxon Mobil to move the pipeline if it is to be restarted.

More than 13 miles of the pipeline lies in the Lake Maumelle watershed, which provides drinking water for more than 400,000 Arkansas residents.


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