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May 02, 2013

Exxon Conceals Results of 2013 Pegasus Pipeline Inspection

The following is an open letter to Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO.

Dear Mr. Tillerson:  

It's now been more than a month since the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline ruptured and spewed more than 200,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the neighborhoods and waterways of Mayflower, Arkansas.  More than 20 families were evacuated and remain out of their homes.  Federal documents show that less than half of the crude has been recovered, and there are conflicting reports about whether the crude has made it into Lake Conway and beyond. Mayflower residents in the immediate spill area and beyond are intensely and justifiably concerned about both the short and long-term health effects of the spill on their families.  Their concerns are elevated even higher by yesterday's news of another Pegasus pipeline spill in our neighboring state of Missouri.

Today, a group of federal, state, and local officials gathered in Little Rock to discuss the risks of the Pegasus pipeline to Arkansas's capital city.  The aging Pegasus pipeline runs through 13.6 miles of the Lake Maumelle watershed, which is the drinking water source for 400,000 people in central Arkansas.  The discussion centered largely around options for either removing the Pegasus pipeline from the watershed or, failing that, how to dramatically improve the safety of the pipeline.  ExxonMobil was invited to the meeting but did not send a representative. Further, officials at the meeting repeatedly noted that ExxonMobil has yet to provide information and answers to questions that have been asked of the corporation.  

Arkansans deserve answers from ExxonMobil.  Families have been out of their homes for more than a month.  Mayflower's land and waterways are fouled, children and others have become sick from exposure, and hundreds of animals and birds have been killed or sickened after coming in contact with the spilled crude.  Our health, safety, and environment are at risk in Mayflower and beyond.  

We need answers to the following questions:

1.  Pipelines such as Pegasus are required to be fully inspected at least once every five years.  ExxonMobil completed an inspection of Pegasus in 2010, and then did another inspection in February of 2013 -- one month prior to the pipeline rupture in Mayflower.  The results of that inspection have been requested, but not released by ExxonMobil even though it is now May. 

Did the results of ExxonMobil's 2013 pipeline inspection show that Pegasus was in good condition?  

Did the inspection show any problems with Pegasus?  

Specifically, did the inspection reveal any problems with the portion of Pegasus that ruptured in Mayflower?  

Did the inspection reveal any problem with the portion of Pegasus that leaked in Missouri this week?  

If so, what steps did ExxonMobil take to remedy those problems?   

If the inspection in February 2013 did not show any problems prior to the Mayflower rupture and Missouri leak, are you concerned that your inspection efforts were substandard?

When will you release the February 2013 inspection data?

 2.  ExxonMobil has given fairly rosy assessments of cleanup progress for the estimated 210,000 gallons of tar sands in the spill (5,000 barrels).  On April 18th, ExxonMobil stated that it expects the cleanup to be complete in "two to three weeks." However, according to an Accident Incident Report dated April 26th and filed with the federal pipeline safety agency, ExxonMobil estimates that it has recovered only 2,000 barrels of the spilled crude -- less than half (pdf).

Completion of the cleanup means making Mayflower whole again. That means completely removing the spill from the subdivision, the land, the waterways, and associated marshland.  What is a realistic date for this cleanup to be completed?

3.  ExxonMobil has been invited on several occasions to meet with Arkansas officials since the spill, including meetings of the Central Arkansas Water board of directors, the Pulaski County Quorum Court, and today's meeting in Little Rock with numerous state/local/federal officials. ExxonMobil declined to send a representative to meet with any of these bodies.  Since the spill, there have been numerous demands--formal and informal--for Exxon to move the Pegasus pipeline out of the Lake Maumelle watershed.  Calls to move the pipeline have come from Central Arkansas Water, the Pulaski County Quorum Court, the City of Little Rock, and U.S. Congressman Tim Griffin, to name a few.  In addition, Central Arkansas Water asked ExxonMobil to take numerous short and long term actions to protect the Lake Maumelle watershed. ExxonMobil has not yet responded to any of the resolutions.  

Exxon Mobil is one of the largest multinational corporations in the entire world, employing tens of thousands of people, yet cannot seem to find one spare person to sit down with officials in Central Arkansas.  Why has ExxonMobil declined to meet with these bodies to discuss the risks that its aging Pegasus pipeline may pose to the drinking water of 400,000 Central Arkansans?  

When will you respond to the resolutions, especially the resolution from Central Arkansas Water asking for specific long and short term safety improvements?  

The Mayflower rupture was an event that has forever changed the complexion and future of an Arkansas community.  Handling the aftermath in a thorough and transparent manner will go a long way into restoring this community.  We need answers and we need your cooperation.  

Sincerely,

Glen Hooks

Sierra Club of Arkansas

Lifelong Arkansan

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