Sunday, May 5, 2013

One Month After Exxon’s Arkansas Oil Spill, Still No Answers to Basic Questions

From:  Inside Climate News

When was the leak first detected, by whom, and how long had it been going on? Answers are crucial to the national debate over Keystone and pipeline safety.

Picture of the 22-foot-long tear in ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline. Image courtesy of the The Duncan Firm. The firm conducted a preliminary inspection of the ruptured line on April 10, 2013.
One month after a 65-year-old ExxonMobil pipeline burst without warning and dumped Canadian tar sands oil in the town of Mayflower, Ark., government investigators and residents are still looking for answers to basic questions about the spill.

When did the pipeline begin leaking? When and how did the oil company find out about it? How quickly did the company act? How much oil spilled from the pipeline's 22-foot-long gash? And what condition was the line in before it ruptured?

The unanswered questions are urgent because they speak to issues of pipeline safety and enforcement as thousands of miles of new and reconfigured pipelines—including the Keystone XL—are being proposed to run across the United  States.

Three groups are currently investigating the Mayflower spill. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a branch of the Department of Transportation that is primarily responsible for developing and enforcing pipeline regulations, is handling the official federal inquiry into the cause of the pipeline rupture. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has launched his own investigation into the spill and is reviewing more than 12,500 pages of documents that Exxon turned over at his request. U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is also doing his own inquiry of the spill.

Last week InsideClimate News sent transcripts of the 911 police reports it obtained from the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office to Rep. Markey's office upon its request. The transcripts are also being released publicly here.

They tell a different story than what Exxon reported to the federal government in the initial days of the spill, which was also different from what the company told the public in subsequent weeks.  MORE

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