ExxonMobil Mayflower Clean Water Settlement
(Washington, DC - April 22, 2015) EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Arkansas announced that ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipeline Company (ExxonMobil) have agreed to pay a civil penalty, fund an environmental project and implement corrective measures for an alleged violation of the Clean Water Act stemming from a 2013 crude oil spill from ExxonMobil’s “Pegasus” pipeline near Mayflower, Arkansas.
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ExxonMobil Pipeline Company transports crude oil, refined products, liquefied petroleum gases, natural gas liquids and chemical feedstocks through 8,000 miles of operated pipeline. In addition to pipelines, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company operates 23 distribution terminals in the U.S., which distribute gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, aviation fuel, kerosene and other refined products.
ExxonMobil discharged approximately 3,190 barrels of crude oil from the pipeline in violation of Section 311 of the Clean Water Act. On March 29, 2013, ExxonMobil’s 20-inch-diameter pipeline – known as the “Pegasus Pipeline” – ruptured near Mayflower, Arkansas, and crude oil spilled into the surrounding area and flowed into Lake Conway. Twenty-one homes in the North Wood Subdivision were ordered evacuated as a result of the spill. Wetland vegetation, waterfowl and various other wildlife were impacted.
Since the spill ExxonMobil has been, and will continue, performing assessment and follow-up work on the pipeline, as required under a Corrective Action Order dated April 2, 2013, issued by the United States Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”). The segment of the Pegasus Pipeline that includes the rupture site has been idled since the March 2013 spill, and under the terms of the settlement agreement, ExxonMobil commits to complying with all PHMSA corrective action requirements before returning the pipeline to operation. ExxonMobil will also take other pipeline safety measures to help prevent future ruptures, in the event the pipeline is restarted, and will improve its spill response capabilities by providing additional training to its oil spill first responders and establishing caches of spill response equipment and supplies at three strategically chosen sites along the pipeline, including one location near Mayflower in Faulkner County, Arkansas.
Due to the fact that the injunctive relief contained in the settlement is preventative in nature, it is not possible to estimate a specific total pollutant reduction associated with this consent decree.
Health and Environmental Effects
The injunctive relief required by the settlement to improve the safety of ExxonMobil’s practices and to enhance its oil spill preparedness and response are designed both to prevent the likelihood of a future oil spill, and to minimize the adverse effects of a spill if it should happen. Oil spills are known to cause both immediate and long-term harm to human health and ecosystems. Oil limits oxygen in water and can suffocate wildlife.
Oil emulsions may stick to the gills of fish or coat and destroy algae or other plankton. Floating oil may reduce water exposure to the circulation of oxygen and, in conjunction with emulsified oil, interfere with photosynthesis. Oil slicks can kill birds, contaminate food sources, reduce animal and plant reproduction and contaminate nesting habitats. Oil spills can cause long-term effects years later even if the oil remains in the environment for a relatively short period of time. Petroleum oils can also undergo oxidation and polymerization reactions and can form tars that persist in the environment for years.
ExxonMobil will pay a $3,190,000 federal civil penalty which will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the Eastern District of Arkansas is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.
For More Information, Contact:
OECA/OCE - Water Enforcement Division (Mail Code 2243A)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460