Those affected by the oil spill in Mayflower met again on the subject Thursday, marking the 10-month anniversary of the March 29, 2013 ExxonMobil Pegasus spill.
The Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group and a few outspoken Mayflower residents-turned-activists meet monthly to share information and hear from outside experts on environmental subjects.
Discussion is geared toward product exposure health effects, the impact of the oil spill on the native species and ecosystems, how to avoid future chemical disasters, the appropriate response to environmental and chemical disasters, and how to interact with state and federal agencies and officials.
The group heard from Dr. Anne Redelfs Thursday, author of “The Awakening Storm,” on the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Redelfs, a retired psychiatrist, offered relaxation techniques and spoke about the power of an event like the oil spill to divide communities that are facing frustration and emotional trauma.
Jeff Bodanski, retired hazmat worker, offered his experience in the field and explained inconsistencies he felt were part of the cleanup in Mayflower, which included workers who did not wear respirators; the method of air monitoring for limited time exposure, such as for cleanup workers as it compares to a resident who would be exposed at low levels over a longer period of time; and cleanup agencies’ failure to evacuate residents near locations where spilled crude oil pooled on the spill route and near the cove of Lake Conway.
Mayflower resident Genieve Long shared photos she took at the cove area of Lake Conway, where absorbent booms and oil sheen are still present.
Long said on Jan. 8 she and another person found ice at the cove that contained oil sheen and what appeared to be “tar balls” embedded in ice.
Long said oil is still in the sediment around and in the cove and can be found just under topsoil.
April Lane, FCCAG board member, explained an online reporting system for Mayflower residents and others affected by an environmental disaster.
Lane said in events like the oil spill in Mayflower, it is important that residents keep diaries, but she has been unable to convince them to carry out the task.
She said the online reporting system includes a written log for each user, a place to upload photos and videos, and a feature to rate and comment on disaster-related agency reports.
The reporting system “helps put the puzzle together,” she said.
A local network that will encompass Faulkner County is expected to be up and running at host site www.ivanonline.org by spring, Lane said.
Lane said soon the group will invite health and environmental agency representatives to be members of a task force, or an entity to meet regularly to review reports submitted in the online network to determine if more action should be taken in the wake of an environmental or chemical disaster.
Facilitating discussion between agencies and the community is the ultimate goal, she said.
The group is planning a one-year anniversary meeting to completely review and provide relevant updates from the spill in Mayflower on a date close to March 29.
The date and location have not yet been decided, Long said.