Exxon Mobil Corp. says crews have recovered about 12,000 barrels of oil near Mayflower, Arkansas, after the company’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon.
The pipeline carries Canadian heavy crude oil from Patoka, Illinois to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast.
A company statement released Sunday afternoon said crews were steam-cleaning oil from property, and that 22 homes are still in the process of being evacuated.
Fifteen vaccum trucks and 33 storage tanks have been deployed to the spill area.
The company said the 51-centimetre pipeline had been shut down as crews tried to prevent the spilled oil from reaching a nearby lake.
Exxon said no oil had reached Lake Conway, known as a fishing lake stocked with bass, catfish and bream. The company said it deployed about 2,000 metres of boom near the lake “as a precaution.”
It said cleanup operations were being co-ordinated with the Department of Emergency Management and other local authorities, and that the cause of the spill was being investigated.
Authorities from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are on site and have categorized it as a “major spill,” meaning that it’s greater than 250 barrels. The cause of the spill is now under investigation.
On Monday federal regulators proposed that Exxon Mobil pay $1.7 million in civil penalties for safety violations linked to a pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 238,000 litres of crude oil into Montana’s scenic Yellowstone River in July 2011.
The spill fouled approximately 110 kilometres of the Yellowstone River’s banks, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a massive, months-long cleanup.
The latest spill comes at time when proponents of the proposed Keystone X-L pipeline have been trying to convince Washington to give the seven billion dollar project the green light.
Opponents of TransCanada Corp.’s plan to pipe Alberta oilsands bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast denounce it as an environmental catastrophe in the making.
© The Canadian Press, 2013