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Exxon response does not indicate pipeline move

ExxonMobil president says discussion 'premature'

Posted: July 29, 2013 - 2:23pm

In a letter sent last week to Central Arkansas Water representatives, ExxonMobil’s president gave no indication the company is considering moving the recently ruptured Pegasus Pipeline from the Lake Maumelle Watershed.

After the March 29 rupture in Mayflower, the group, which monitors Arkansas’ source of water for 400,000 people in Central Arkansas, asked the company for more information about the integrity of the pipeline and requested that it be rerouted away from the water source.

According to CAW, the pipeline travels 13.5 miles through the watershed and directly near Lake Maumelle, located southwest of Mayflower in Pulaski County.

Company President Gary Pruessing wrote that he received the July 19 letter requesting information and that the company shares the concern for the Lake Maumelle Watershed.

Pruessing outlined the actions the company has taken to provide information and remain transparent to regulators, but he did not provide specific information in response to the request.

Exxon representatives have said awaited findings in a metallurgical report that would shed light on the Mayflower rupture and the integrity of the pipeline should be released through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and Pruessing also states this in the letter.

The agency has declined to release the report and test results of the study, citing an ongoing investigation.

Congressman Tim Griffin, a recipient of ExxonMobil’s letter, said in a quote provided by email Monday he thinks it is possible to get Exxon to “reverse course” as the company has in recent days.

The company was going to put a stop to housing assistance for displaced Mayflower residents Sept. 1, until public outcry and meetings with residents caused Exxon to reverse the move last week.

“As I’ve said, the Pegasus pipeline that runs through a portion of the Lake Maumelle watershed should be relocated and the Obama Administration and ExxonMobil should move faster in addressing our concerns.

Community leaders and the public are entitled to know the facts so we can do everything in our power to make sure the drinking water for more than 400,000 Arkansans remains safe,” Griffin stated. “In recent weeks, we’ve had some success in getting ExxonMobil to reverse course, and I think we can do it again.”

Pruessing reminded recipients of the letter that Exxon invited CAW to participate in one of the 40 or more exploratory validation digs performed at the pipeline that followed preliminary test results from a “tool run” performed in February.

He also wrote of a commitment to conduct a “joint walk-through” with CAW for the 13.5 miles of pipeline in the watershed within the next few months.

According to Pruessing, the company has been working with CAW to develop a mechanism to share “appropriate pipeline integrity data,” including results requested in the group’s July 19 letter, “under a process that safeguards proprietary and confidential information.”

Pruessing wrote that the company would not restart the pipeline until Exxon is satisfied it is safe to do so with the approval of PHMSA.

“The Pegasus Pipeline has been a safe and reliable pipeline with no major incidents for 64 years until the Mayflower breach. It would be premature to engage in discussions of significance until the investigation of the pipeline failure is complete,” he said.

The watershed lies within surrounding Pulaski, Perry and Saline counties.

Recipients of the letter were Sens. Mark Pryor, John Boozman, Griffin, Judge Buddy Villines, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, and CAW Chairperson Marie-Bernarde Miller.

A group of concerned citizens met in Mayflower Monday for another town hall meeting to share information and knowledge on the spill and its impact on people and local wildlife.

Genevieve Long, a Mayflower resident who has worked with the Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group to keep the town halls going every 30 days, said about 25 people attended Monday.

Topics were a report that allegedly showed “hook cracks” in the ruptured pipeline were known to be a potential hazard, efforts to secure a local health study on residents near the spill site, and reports that fish recently caught in Lake Conway appeared to have a black substance in their gills.

Long said she and other concerned parties would meet every 30 days “until something actually happens.”

(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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reader 07/30/13 - 09:02 am
Moving the pipeline

to a more suitable location (if such a path exists), admittedly would force ExxonMobile to expend a great deal of their profits, which are considerable, to do so. Most of the area between Faulkner, Pulaski, Perry and Saline county is no longer just vacant land as it most probably was when the pipeline was built.

However, the facts need to be open and discussed.

1. Just how much of the pipeline was produced by the manufacturer who built the section which failed?

2. Exactly what is the path the section produced by this manufacturer takes geographically through the counties mentioned, as well as others not mentioned. Obviously the pipeline goes through a large portion of the state.

3. Does the pipeline lay anywhere near the New Madrid fault, and pose a danger of spillage should the next predicted earthquake occur?

4. Is the current (or most recent past) use of the pipeline, moving substances which do more damage to the pipeline than the crude it was originally built to carry?

These are just the questions I have as an unqualified citizen of the 'Natural State'. I'm sure those with engineering and geographic training and experience probably have a lot more. All the questions need to be asked, and the answers should determine, what future action is taken by ExxonMobile to alleviate the danger of another community, lake, or water source is irreparably damaged.

Maybe the answer to all of them, is abandoning this pipeline and building a new one which can take the beating this new form of crude gives it.

conwayville 07/30/13 - 09:48 pm
Good points

In my opinion, it does not matter where the pipeline was moved to in the sense that people are going to complain about no matter if it's moved away from the watershed or moved into outer space. The "not in my backyard" mentality, if you will. Even if the entire pipeline were located in all-rural location (impossible), sooner or later people are going to build near it.

Exactly the same thing that happened in Mayflower. That pipe has been there since what, the 1940's? Friend of mine used to live in an older house that was build in 1950. It was one of the first houses to be constructed in that particular area. He knew about the pipeline when the house was built. The neighbor also hit the same pipeline while illegally digging. Also damaged a nat gas line that feeds my friend's house (which, by the way, STILL has no nat gas because the pipe is destroyed). No longer his responsibility as it was sold and he has moved out of the country. But still a huge mess for new owner.

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