Exxon response does not indicate pipeline move

ExxonMobil president says discussion 'premature'

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)