Exxon cleans up Arkansas oil spill; Keystone plan assailed

Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:27pm EDT
 
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By Kristen Hays and Matthew Robinson

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil on Sunday continued cleanup of a pipeline spill that spewed thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude in Arkansas as opponents of oil sands development latched on to the incident to attack plans to build the Keystone XL line.

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said on Sunday that crews had yet to excavate the area around the pipeline breach, a needed step before the company can estimate how long repairs will take and when the line might restart.

"I can't speculate on when it will happen," Jeffers said. "Excavation is necessary as part of an investigation to determine the cause of the incident."

Exxon's Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Patoka, Illinois to Nederland, Texas, was shut after the leak was discovered late Friday afternoon in a subdivision near the town of Mayflower. The leak forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

Exxon also had no specific estimate of how much crude oil had spilled, but the company said 12,000 barrels of oil and water had been recovered - up from 4,500 barrels on Saturday. The company did not say how much of the total was oil and how much was water.

Allen Dodson, Faulkner County judge who is the top executive for the county where the spill occurred, told Reuters in an interview on Sunday that the smell of crude was less potent on Sunday as cleanup efforts continued, saying it was weaker than the smell of fresh asphalt laid on a road.

"The freestanding oil on the street has been removed. It's still damp with oil, it's tacky, like it is before we do an asphalt overlay," he said.

Exxon said it staged the response to handle 10,000 barrels of oil "to ensure adequate resources are in place."   Continued...

 
Men wearing protective clothing survey cleanup efforts March 30, 2013 where an underground crude oil pipeline ruptured in the Northwood subdivision in Mayflower, Arkansas. REUTERS/Rick McFarland/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Handout