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McDaniel says litigation with ExxonMobil a 'certainty'

Attorney General starts oil spill investigation with subpoena

Posted: April 3, 2013 - 3:43pm

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said at a Mayflower press conference Wednesday he has issued a subpoena for documents, data and other evidence from ExxonMobil pertaining to the crude oil spill that dumped thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower last week.

McDaniel, coming to the defense of Mayflower homeowners and residents, said future litigation with ExxonMobil, the company responsible for the oil spill, is a “certainty.”

McDaniel fielded press inquiries about a closed meeting held Tuesday between still displaced residents of Northwoods subdivision and ExxonMobil representatives.

Accounts from residents inside the meeting reported to local news agencies indicated some homeowners were not satisfied with representatives’ responses about potential reduction of property values inside the neighborhood where the Pegasus pipeline ruptured.

“I would think it is very reasonable to think selling a house in the neighborhood has become substantially more difficult. The fault of that, and the responsibility of that should not fall on the shoulders of homeowners,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel was critical of ExxonMobil representatives who he said tried to route him into a van for a tour of the site Wednesday.

“I explained to them I’m not here for a tour and I’m not getting in a van. We’re here on behalf of the State of Arkansas as the state’s lawyer, a constitutional officer empowered by the General Assembly to enforce our laws, and we’re here to conduct an investigation, not take a tour,” McDaniel told members of the press. “I didn’t appreciate how we were treated, so I can only imagine how some of the homeowners must have felt.”

McDaniel likened the scene at Northwoods subdivision to one from “The Walking Dead,” a post-apocalyptic television series with zombies and images of abandoned urban landscapes.

“There were still Easter decorations on homes, but not a soul in sight other than people in Hazmat suits,” he said.

McDaniel, who said he was emotionally impacted by Wednesday’s visit to Mayflower, said he has been reminded by ExxonMobil representatives that the spill is “relatively small,” and cleanup is “going just great.”

“I hope they realize for the homeowners in this area, it is not small. It is catastrophic. For those who fear for their drinking water, it is not great,” he said.

Though he had scathing remarks for what he perceived as a downplay of the incident by ExxonMobil representatives, he said the company’s legal office has responded appropriately to his requests.

As far as ground response, McDaniel said ExxonMobil appears to be doing what they can.

He said he knows of about 600 responders without counting those offering resources off site.

McDaniel said lawyers from ExxonMobil were due to arrive in Mayflower Wednesday.

“It’s a certainty this will be in litigation at some point,” he said.

Congressman Tim Griffin, who was also in Mayflower Wednesday, said ExxonMobil representatives told him it would be a matter of days, and not weeks, before about 22 displaced households would return to the neighborhood where the pipeline ruptured.

Griffin said he was told crews were removing dirt saturated with crude oil and performing other landscape work so residents could return.

He said he also heard from officials that air quality testing in the neighborhood showed air was “negative for dangerous substances.”

“I have confidence if there’s a problem we need to know about, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Department of Transportation would tell us,” Griffin said, referencing the collective body of federal, state and local agencies monitoring the site and other affected areas.

McDaniel complained of a headache Wednesday at the press conference at Mayflower City Hall after “limited exposure” to the rupture site in Northwoods. He said his staffers were also experiencing side effects from oil fumes, and that he was told several children at a nearby elementary school had been sent home earlier in the day after they became nauseous.

The amount of the crude mixture McDaniel referred to as “tar sands” that was spilled is estimated by ExxonMobil to be 3,500 to 5,000 barrels, according to a corrective action order issued by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

An ExxonMobil representative previously reported “several thousands of barrels” were observed above ground by officials in Mayflower.

The company’s response is based on recovering 10,000 barrels, or 420,000 gallons.

The oil has made its way to the marshy area just north of the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area, but not to Lake Conway, according to officials.

Mayflower residents with claims or those who spot “oiled” animals are encouraged to call the ExxonMobil claims number at 1-800-876-9291.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)



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fromundacheese 04/03/13 - 04:18 pm
Oil's well that ends well

Jason and Timmy, sittin' in a refinery,
First comes graft, then comes election,
Now no one in Mayflower
Can get an ahwreckshun.

moi 04/03/13 - 05:21 pm
Go Dustin GO

My mind..
First thing ya know old Jed's a millionaire. It bubbled up like that.

I drove the old highway on Friday afternoon then did the Interstate on Saturday....saw the booms on the creek..

Saw FB pics on Monday that really concerned me then was amazed this am at 5:45 on 40--it was like daylight.

No wonder folks who live nearby are nauseous and I agree with everything Dustin said.

Exxon stop reaping profits and get your infrastructure under control.

SWIBC 04/03/13 - 09:37 pm
well Dusty maybe you should

well Dusty maybe you should have worn a mask while near the oil, think maybe that would have worked instead of running to the next microphone to stop your feet and shake your fist at the evil giant for giving you a headache.
Keep grandstanding, but because you freed little dusty with a hussy your going no where in politics, so might as well try the bright lights.
I heard Tingles needs guest, then maybe big dumb Ed, and don't forget looney Laurence, of course make sure your visit young Toure as well so you're not a racist.

Olguywicker 04/04/13 - 01:30 am


ARVoiceofLogic 04/03/13 - 10:04 pm
Griffin says

"“I have confidence if there’s a problem we need to know about, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Department of Transportation would tell us,” Griffin said, referencing the collective body of federal, state and local agencies monitoring the site and other affected areas."

-The same EPA he wants to gut....

jdraper 04/03/13 - 10:12 pm
Love our AG

I love our AG so much, and not just for this. He actually gives a crap about the little people in this state.

sonicstring 04/04/13 - 07:17 am
AG actions.

Never been more embarassed in my life. Nothing but grandstanding and chest puffing. He blew (pardon the pun) his chance to be Governor. He is acting more like a TV lawyer than a state officer. "If you or your loved ones have died or gotten sick or seen a oiled duck or smelled gas somewhere other than Uncle John's bean festival then you may be entilitled to a bunch of money"

ARVoiceofLogic 04/04/13 - 07:30 am
So it's grandstanding

because your property and environment didn't get ruined? He is doing what he is paid (by us) to do.... Represent our interests.

sonicstring 04/04/13 - 12:44 pm

Guess what ? Not every resident of Mayflower has property with damage on it. I guess by your "logic" then only the people who live in the subdivision have a right to say anything. Well guess what else. I am a resident and although my property is not covered in that nasty goo I still get to smell it every day, I still get to dodge the trucks and tankers and constant lines a flashing blue lights 24/7. Over half the parking lots in town that were for business are now either storage tanks areas or command centers. It's a mess. A god awful mess, For every resident and near resident it's a major pain in the keester. We won't know for a long time to come about the level of damage to the wildlife and surrounding areas. Yes I am a resident and yes I will speak out about grandstanding politicians. Here is my point and somewhere else on here another person mentioned the same thing. We are less than a week in to this disaster (By the way, Good 'ol Gov Beeeeebeee is still trying to decide if its a disaster or not)So far, not a single person in Mayflower has complained about a lack of response from big oil. ( that I have heard of) It was unprofessional of McDaniel to come riding in on his imaginary white horse and make claims that Exxon is not treating people right. His words were to the effect that they (Exxon) did not treat him the way he wanted to be treated so he could only imagine what they were doing to the residents. Yeah... Only imagine.. Thats sorta kinda the same as "I'm making crap up so I can sound tough". You have to give Exxon crap inc. a chance to either act right or act wrong first. If they don't treat the homeowners fairly I will be right up there screaming about that as well even though it wont put a nickel in my pocket. I'm one of the few that supported McDaniel when his less than stellar personal choices hit the news. I could not care less about his personal stupidity in life choices and I thought that his stupidity would not spill over in to his professional life. Well it seems we have more than just oil spilling over in Mayflower. Being a big oil company is not illegal. You and I support them every time we turn the key but just because they are big doesnt give you or me or anyone else the right to call them guilty over what they 'might' do, only for what they have done and like the lake only time will reveal that.

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