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Community still feeling strains of oil spill reputation

Clean up continuing six months later

Posted: September 28, 2013 - 8:49pm
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A worker cleans up a portion of the spill area in Mayflower in March.
A worker cleans up a portion of the spill area in Mayflower in March.

Lake Conway is a known destination for fishermen in Arkansas, but bringing in new Mayflower residents has become harder since March when the ExxonMobil Pegasus Pipeline ruptured, sending thousands of barrels of oil into the community.

Real estate broker Sandy Bridges said she moved to Mayflower in 1995 to sell real estate. Since the oil spill, the business of buying and selling homes has not been easy, as lenders and appraisers are leery of Mayflower properties — even properties far from the spill zone — but Bridges said some of the solutions she is working on with Exxon, if successfully implemented, would expedite the recovery of the Mayflower real estate market.

“We’re talking with Exxon now to figure out some solutions,” she said. “My whole goal is to restore the marketplace.”

Some of these solution may include workshops with appraisers to educate them on specific spill-related concerns.

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson, who acted as the local representative on the Unified Command, said a lot of Mayflower has moved from emergency response to remediation. At that point, control of the situation transitions from the Unified Command to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

There are still areas of the Northwoods subdivision that are in emergency response because of oil that has seeped under a few of the houses’ foundations.

“Exxon has extended offers to purchase those homes,” Dodson said. “Some have sold, some have not ... That oil has got to be moved one way or another.”

Going forward, Dodson said he plans to stay involved even after the Unified Command’s oversight is diminished.

“I’m definitely going to be watching that closely,” he said. “We’ll be closely involved. ADEQ is the authority, but they have indicated they want to keep us involved and keep us in the loop.”

As far as the pipeline restarting, Dodson said that decision is up to the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“I’m interested just like everyone. It needs to be operated in a safe manner,” Dodson said. “It’s probably fair to say they’re going to be extra cautious.”

For the community, Dodson said he is hopeful a safe and swift conclusion to the situation is forthcoming.

“Closure can’t come quickly enough for anyone involved,” he said.

(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at angela.spencer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1212. 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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