April 2, 2013 / 3:14 PM / in 5 years

Arkansas opening probe into Exxon pipeline spill

(Reuters) - Arkansas has launched an investigation into Exxon Mobil Corp’s ruptured crude pipeline that released thousands of barrels of barrels of oil into a subdivision, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said on Tuesday.

Spilled crude oil is seen in a drainage ditch near Starlite Road in Mayflower, Arkansas March 31, 2013. REUTERS/Jacob Slaton

McDaniel said he asked Exxon to preserve all documents and information related to Friday’s spill and ongoing cleanup efforts at the site next to a subdivision in Mayflower, Arkansas, about 20 miles northeast of Little Rock.

McDaniel said the spill damaged property and forced evacuations of 22 homes. Crude bubbled up from the line and snaked across lawns, into streets and storm drains.

Local responders quickly built dams of dirt and rock to block a pair of culverts to stop crude from reaching nearby Lake Conway, a fishing lake stocked with bass, catfish, bream and crappie.

McDaniel said in a statement that the request was the “first step in determining what happened and preserving evidence for any future litigation.”

Exxon spokeswoman Kim Jordan said the company will “cooperate fully” with any investigation.

Jordan also said Exxon was developing a plan to excavate, remove and replace the ruptured portion of its Pegasus pipeline, which transports heavy Canadian crude oil from Illinois to Texas.

The line remained shut, and Exxon had yet to speculate on how long repairs would take and when it might restart, Jordan said.

Exxon said on Monday that a plan to allow residents to return to their homes was under development. In the meantime, Mayflower police were providing escorts for affected residents to briefly go to their homes to retrieve personal items.

Reporting By Kristen Hays; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and David Gregorio

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