MAYFLOWER — The mayor of Mayflower and the Faulkner County judge said Monday that they are pleased with the progress made after a pipeline ruptured underneath a neighborhood, spilling thousands of gallons of crude oil into the streets, drainage system and a cove of Lake Conway.
Speaking at the site of the ruptured Exxon Mobil Pegasus pipeline a day after the 6-month anniversary of the March 29 spill, Mayor Randy Holland said the cleanup efforts have been encouraging.
"It's been a long six months," Holland said, "but we are progressing and we are getting Mayflower back to where it needs to be."
Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson called the progress "significant," noting the cove has largely been cleaned, the drainage system hasn't shown signs of oil for months and negotiations are ongoing with homeowners who either wish to sell their property to Exxon Mobil or to return to it.
"I'm comfortable saying we're pleased with the progress but we'll never be satisfied until the job is complete, we get the people back in their homes or the homes bought, or whatever the ultimate resolution is for each of the families and residents," Dodson said.
Twenty-two homes in the Northwoods Subdivision were evacuated and three that still have oil under them have still not been cleared for residents to return. Most of the evacuated families have chosen not to return even after being cleared to do so, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday.
Exxon officials at the media briefing Monday said five homes have been purchased by the company so far and that about a dozen families are still receiving financial assistance to the cover costs of being displaced.
An estimated 210,000 gallons of oil spilled from the burst Pegasus pipeline, leading to a massive cleanup effort in the neighborhood and the cove, a marshy area about a mile away adjacent to Lake Conway.
The pipeline has not been restarted, and Exxon Mobil hasn't said when it will seek to bring it back online.