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Arkansas attorney general announces special task force

McDaniel: 'Mayflower is a long way from being made whole again'

Posted: May 7, 2013 - 4:46pm
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ANGELA SPENCER STAFF PHOTO  Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel gives an update about the Mayflower oil spill Tuesday.
ANGELA SPENCER STAFF PHOTO Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel gives an update about the Mayflower oil spill Tuesday.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced a special task force within his office to address questions and concerns resulting from the Mayflower oil spill which occurred March 29.

“The Mayflower Consumer Response Team is now up and running in addition to our litigation and environmental efforts,” he said.

McDaniel said residents have been visited by door-to-door salesmen offering air cleaning products and other items, and the attorney general’s office is working to make sure these salesmen are not scammers feeding off the misfortunes of Mayflower residents.

His office will also seek to function as an “information clearing house” to dispel rumors and update the affected residents, including daily updates from the attorney general’s office and other agencies.

McDaniel said he has been concerned about property owners in Mayflower, even beyond the neighborhood where the oil leaked. He said he received a copy of ExxonMobil’s 38-page Property Purchase and Price Protection program Monday.

“I believe that Exxon should purchase all of the affected properties in that area, including those in the subdivision and in the cove area for the appraisal price prior to the spill,” he said. “I do not believe this plan accomplishes that goal and I will have more to say about it soon.”

Although it is a complex plan, McDaniel mentioned three categories property owners may fall into: Owners whose property may be purchased outright, some who have been told they can put their house up for sale and sometime in the future there may be compensation for a reduced sale price and a third group who has not been spoken to at all.

“The homeowners in the cove area who had water — oily water — lapping up on their property and affected wildlife on their property are not included in this plan at all, as far as I can see,” McDaniel said.

Health is another issue McDaniel said he was concerned about and his office has enlisted the help of its health care bureau.

“Many continue to suffer from headaches and nausea, and air sampling continues to show that the carcinogen benzene remains in the air,” he said.

Air quality testing has been released with qualifying language stating the benzene is not present in an “imminent health risk,” McDaniel said, but that does not mean it is not present at all.

McDaniel said he is still waiting to find out the cause of the break.

The Unified Command team on the ground in Mayflower has been helpful and responsive to requests, McDaniel said.

The attorney general’s office is preparing for litigation, but McDaniel said it is premature to speculate if or when it may be coming.

The special task force can be reached at 1-800-482-8982 or oilspill@ArkansasAG.gov.

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