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Residents near oil spill prepare for long evacuation

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 1, 2013 at 9:47 a.m. Updated April 1, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.

crews-work-monday-april-1-2013-in-mayflower-at-the-site-of-a-ruptured-exxon-mobil-oil-pipeline

Crews work Monday, April 1, 2013, in Mayflower at the site of a ruptured Exxon Mobil oil pipeline.

Oil spill cleanup continues in Mayflower

Crews were back at work Monday to clean up thousands of gallons of oil that spilled in Mayflower, forcing nearly two dozen residents from their homes. (By Gavin Lesnick)
[View Full-Size]

Warren Andrews talks to a reporter Monday in his yard, which is several houses down the street in the same neighborhood from an ExxonMobil pipeline th...

Mayflower Oil Spill

Mayflower oil spill Friday March 29th 2013.

MAYFLOWER — Residents in a Mayflower subdivision evacuated after an Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil into their community are preparing for lengthy stays away from home, one said Monday.

Warren Andrews, 52, who lives at 12 N. Starlite Road, said he and some of the other evacuated residents from nearly two dozen homes in the neighborhood were told Sunday to expect to be out of their homes at least six days.

"It's been pretty rough," Andrews said Monday, taking a break from picking up a few essentials during a quick trip back into his house. "They told us at first it'd be two days [we were evacuated]. Now it's six and possibly 10.

"It's just a sad accident. I didn't even know the oil pipeline was there."

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson said there was no definite timetable for when residents would be allowed to return, but he said it would likely be a phased process when it begins. Some of the neighborhood was less affected than other parts, so those residents will be cleared to go back in first.

"One side of that street had no oil," he said, stepping outside from an incident command center set up east of town near Interstate 40. "Hopefully those folks will folks will be able to get in fairly soon. I'm optimistic we're approaching just a few days for some of those folks to return to their homes."

On Monday, crews were still working in the neighborhood — and other parts of town — to sop up and flush the oil from the road, yards and drainage ditches. More than a dozen workers were visible in the street in either direction from Andrews' home setting down or picking up pads to sop up the black, sticky oil. The stench of the fumes was thick in the air.

It's still not known what caused the 20-inch pipeline to burst or precisely how much oil spilled, Exxon officials said Monday. Crews have been responding with resources necessary to clean up a 10,000-barrel spill, but company spokesman Alan Jeffers said it's thought to be much less than that. Officials have previously said it appeared a few thousand barrels spread from the site, leaking into some drainage areas but stopping short of Lake Conway. A barrel equals 42 gallons.

Jeffers on Monday reiterated the company's apologies for the incident and stressed Exxon would remain on scene for at least weeks and foot a clean-up bill that will go into the "multiple millions of dollars."

"That will be our responsibility to pay that," he said, noting the company will stay till the cleanup is done. "... We're very sorry for doing this. We know it's been an incredible inconvenience to the community, especially coming on a holiday weekend, on Easter weekend and people are out of their homes. That's our fault, and we're very sorry for it."

Andrews said he was home when the pipeline burst Friday afternoon. His wife noticed it first as she was leaving.

"She called me and said 'Honey, something's wrong," Andrews said. "I came out and I smelled it. Then I saw it coming down the street."

Andrews praised the responders who arrived within minutes of his calling 911 as well as Exxon, who he said have been on the scene, taking care of expenses and checking up multiple times daily.

Still, being out of the house has presented hardships. His daughter's birthday party, which had been set for Friday night, had to be scrapped, as did an Easter celebration the family was to host Sunday.

And it hasn't been easy returning to the house even briefly to take care of the family's two dogs and cat or to pick up essential items. The first day, emergency responders gave the family only 10 minutes to gather belongings, and some were inadvertently left behind.

"My daughter called me and said 'Dad, my prom dress!'" Andrews recalled with a smile. "She said 'I don't want it smelling like oil.'"

Police on Monday were still blocking the entrance to the subdivision, though Andrews arranged to park on a neighbor's property and then walk to his back door.

Then there are the potential long-term effects of the oil and its impact on property values. Andrews owns another home in the subdivision too and had been readying to put it on the market.

"That's kind of canceled," he said. "I'm hoping this doesn't have a long-term affect on property values. But no one's wanting to say right now."

Dodson said officials are still directing their attention toward the immediate goals of cleaning the spilled oil. But he encouraged residents like Andrews to be in touch with Exxon's claims center and even consider hiring an attorney.

"Everything I've seen from Exxon is they're going to take care of anyone who's affected," he said. "I believe they'll do that. And I'm here to make sure they do."

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LevitiCuss says... April 1, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.

They'll sure be required by law to disclose the oil spill during all future property transfers. Funny how the oil company downplays long term affects. Remember the Exxon Valdez? Most of that oil is still up there, but now it's under about a foot of sand. Where it will remain for another hundred years or so. Maybe Arkansans will rethink that new law Rapert co-sponsored giving the oil companies eminent domain over your land for their pipelines.

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Wassup says... April 1, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.

The properties will remain toxic and every time it warm and damp, the oil smell will drift and stink like tomcat spray.

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NoCrossNoCrown says... April 1, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.

REGULATIONS......We don't need no stinking regulations!!!!
After all these folks are the job creators and only do things in OUR best interest....
SUCKERS

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HOTDEMN says... April 1, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.

That picture makes it look like somebody was changing their car oil and got some on the driveway. I've seen multiple cell phone pictures going around the social sites that show the full size of the damage. It is massive and has already reached the lake. This BS snow job by ARDEMZ is what you get when the states only newspaper is owned by a pro corporate Republican.
Move along folks, nothing to see here. BTW, don't forget to read all our glowing articles in favor of building more tar sands pipelines in Arkansas.

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Nate says... April 1, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.

Why is it that all news accounts I've seen so far only talk about a few families being evacuated or being able to go back and pick up needed supplies and nobody (news media) is talking about exactly how much oil has escaped, how many crews/people are out attempting to contain and recover the oil? Is the oil itself toxic? What are the issues associated with the fumes being inhaled? Who is responsible for the cause? What type of liability do they incurr? Who pays for the clean up? Who pays for the damages incurred? How much oil flows through these 20-inch pipes daily? Do it have any similarity to the proposed Keystone Pipeline? What type safeguides were in place with this pipeline? Will the Keystone pipeline have similar safeguards? I would if the news media have similar questions and why they aren't been mentioned?

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Ran2133 says... April 1, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.

County Judge Dodson suggests folks hire attorneys. At this point that suggestion is absolutely ridiculous. No one has a clue right now what their damages might be or the full extent of their potential loss. I'm sure Exxon didn't want this to happen. The lawyers are probably down in Mayflower soliciting clients right now. Folks, be very careful when hiring an attorney; if you hire the wrong one you could wind up losing money that you might be due. Lots of lawyers, especially those whose ads you see on TV, are more interested in their fee than your loss or damages. Many attorneys don't want to put in the time and effort that would be required to properly represent a client. All they are interested in is a quick settlement and their fee! Be very, very, careful!

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dman says... April 1, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.

Must be a big ole' dang truck you're changing the oil in, Hotdemn

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BillSmithFreeSpiritMan says... April 1, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.

FYI....... The Pegasus pipeline, which could carry up to 90,000 barrels of crude each day, was built more than 60 years ago, an Exxon Mobile spokesman said. Leaks are not uncommon, but the company's recent inspections showed no red flags for this section, he told KARK
*
The 848-mile pipeline used to transport crude oil from Texas to Illinois. In 2006 Exxon reversed it to move crude from Illinois to Texas in response to growing Canadian oil production and the ability of U.S. Gulf Coast refineries to process heavy crude.
*
A year ago Exxon won a court appeal to charge market rates on the Pegasus line, or rates that are not capped and that can change along with market conditions without prior approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

That decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. said the Pegasus pipeline is now the "primary avenue" to move Canadian crude oil to the Gulf Coast. The ruling also said Exxon moves about 66,000 barrels per day on the line.
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Not even flowing to capicity so why Keystone XL?

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aimee says... April 1, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.

...a 60 year old pipeline... If the Keystone Pipeline is built IT will some day be be 60 years old... The Big Oil companies will have made their billions and will care nothing for the consequences of their pipeline... They will probably refer to the DISASTER as an "inconvenience" like these company representatives are doing..!!! They will apologize and try to keep reporters OUT of the area..!!! I wouldn't wish this on anyone..!!! It needs to be stopped and more spent to develop clean energy sources..!!!
.
"... We're very sorry for doing this. We know it's been an incredible inconvenience to the community, especially coming on a holiday weekend, on Easter weekend and people are out of their homes. That's our fault, and we're very sorry for it."
.
Yeah, right..!!!!

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JessePinkman says... April 1, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.

Black gold, Texas T

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