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No-fly zone in place over Mayflower oil spill

by Gavin Lesnick | April 3, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. | Updated April 3, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.

A temporary no-fly zone has been put in place over a ruptured pipeline that spilled thousands of gallons of oil in Mayflower.

Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an e-mail the restriction prohibits flight below 1,000 feet within a 5-nautical-mile radius over Mayflower.

Lunsford said the restriction was requested by local disaster response officials.

"They are using at least one helicopter to provide aerial support for the cleanup," he wrote. "For safety reasons, they asked us to protect the airspace 1,000 feet above the area to allow the aircraft to move as needed."

According to an FAA website, the restriction went into effect Monday and will remain in place "until further notice."

The FAA site noted earlier Wednesday that "only relief aircraft operations under direction of Tom Suhrhoff" are allowed in the zone. Lunsford said later Wednesday that officials were amending the restriction to also allow news media aircraft.

Suhrhoff is listed on a LinkedIn profile as an aviation advisor for ExxonMobil. A message left with a media line for the oil company wasn't immediately returned.

The pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon, spilling several thousand barrels worth of oil into a Mayflower subdivision and then into an adjacent drainage system.

Local responders say they were able to block it from reaching Lake Conway, which sits about a mile from the rupture site. A large-scale cleanup effort is continuing.

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