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Pegasus Pipeline Spill in Arkansas

Site of Pegasus pipeline spill. Click map to enlarge.

Also see our Pipeline Spill Channel

Update - Anniversary of the Mayflower Spill
Comes as Work Plan on Pegasus Pipeline Due

March 31 - The first anniversary of the Pegasus pipeline spill of 210,000 gallons of diluted bitumen has passed with Exxon facing a deadline to submit a work plan for the pipeline.

On March 29, 2013, a pipeline built in the late 1940's ruptured near the Northwood subdivision near Mayflower, Arkansas. The diluted bitumen, derived from tar sand oil production in Canada, flooded through the residential neighborhoods forcing the evacuation of 22 homes.

Exxon Mobil, the company that operates the pipeline, is due to submit a work plan by April 7 to the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on potential remedial actions for the aging pipeline.

Also, as the anniversary passed, regulators decided to reopen a southern segment of the pipeline. That segment runs only through Texas and must not exceed 80 percent of the pressure at which it had operated before the accident in Arkansas.

Exxon Files Report Claiming
Cleanup Complete; Arkansas is Cautious

Exxon submitted a report to Arkansas environmental regulators saying that the company's cleanup is essentially complete.

Among its findings, Exxon said in the report filed the week of March 10 that"no adverse effects are expected to ecological populations" from exposure to the small levels of toxic chemicals that remain in the environment after the spill.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said it was too soon to draw conclusions about the ecological health of the spill area.


Exxon Exec Describes Pipeline Rupture Problem


Karen Tyrone, Exxon vice president of U.S. pipeline operations, explains the failure of the joint in the
Pegasus pipeline and Exxon's efforts to assess the risk.

Background

April, 2013 - A pipeline carrying oil from Canadian tar sands spilled at least 210,000 gallons of crude into an Arkansas town March 29, adding to concern about the safety of a proposed pipeline from the same area.

The Pegasus pipeline burst near Mayflower, Ark., to the northwest of Little Rock, and the spill continued for 45 minutes. Police evacuated 22 homes, and pictures of the of oil oozing between homes soon began to appear on Twitter. Exxon, operator of the line, said it would excavate the pipeline to determine the cause of the spill.

Tar Sands Pipeline From Canada

The Pegasus pipeline carries oil from Patoka, Illinois, to the Port Arthur area of the Texas Gulf Coast. There the crude is refined for domestic consumption or for export from coastal terminals. The Pegasus line itself can be fed from a few pipelines extending back to Alberta, Canada, where tar sand is mined from prairie and forest land and processed into diluted bitumen, destined to be refined into petroleum products.

Aerial Video of Pegasus Pipeline Oil Spill clean up

The Pegasus spill in the Mayflower, Ark., community comes as a new pipeline from Canada is being proposed. The Keystone XL Pipeline would traverse three states from Montana to Nebraska, crossing waterways and farmland to connect with a pipeline at Steele City, Neb. The US State Department is accepting public comments in April about an environmental impact statement for the KXL Pipeline.

The pipeline spill also occurred the week that Total and Suncor decided not to pursue a tar sands refining project in Canada. Total will write off $1.65 billion in losses related to the project.


Events of 2013 Pegasus Spill in Mayflower, Ark.


March 29 - Between 5,000 and 7,000 barrels of crude oil from Canadian tar sands spills into a neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas. More than 20 homes were evacuated and a major clean up operation went into effect.

April, 4 - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel set an April 10 deadline for Exxon to comply with a subpoena for information about the Pegasus spill that had been issued earlier this week.
April 2 - The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration sent a corrective order to Exxon requiring the oil company to resolve safety issues before restarting the pipeline.
April 16 - Exxon Mobil makes compensation offer that would buy the 22 homes in the neighborhood closest to the spill and guarantee market price sales for other homes nearby. It also offer4ed $10,000 in emergency and relocation aid.
April, 16 - A new section pipeline was installed along the Pegasus route after damaged pipe had been removed for examination.
April 19 - Officials began shifting efforts from clean up of the diluted bitumen oil spill to land remediation efforts. Further, water quality data was being posted by the Arkansas Dept. of Environmental Quality.
April 26 - A local citizen group released a study saying that unusually high levels of 30 toxic chemicals remained suspended in the air near the Mayflower spill site.
May 1 - Exxon reported a small spill from its Pegasus pipeline in Missouri, 200 miles north of the Mayflower, Arkansas, spill.
May 7 - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said that harmful chemicals remain present in the environment near the Mayflower oil spill. He called on Exxon to provide more help to the neighborhood, including offering to purchase more homes than it has done so far. He also created a consumer issue task force to investigate complaints about over-priced clean-up products and services.
June 13, 2013 - The US Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Arkansas file a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil to recover damages associated with the oil spill.
July 24, 2013 - Legislation was introduced in Congress to forgive Federal income taxes on compensation that victims received from ExxonMobil.

Pegasus Oil Spill Update

Nov 6, 2013 - The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a notice of probable violations to Exxon Mobil in the spill, saying that the oil company failed to ensure the integrity of the pipeline in a high-impact area. A PHMSA compliance officer recommended a civil fine of $2,659,200 for the violations.
July 30, 2013 - ExxonMobil asked that discussions of removing its pipeline from the Lake Maumelle watershed be postponed until an investigation of the spill is complete. About 400,000 people derive water from that watershed.
July 11, 2013 - ExxonMobil blamed outdated manufacturing techniques for the failure of the pipeline. It said that a welding technique used in the 1940s, when the pipeline was installed, failed in the March 29 rupture.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality also released new data on the oil spill.


For more recent news about the Pegasus oil spill near Mayflower, Arkansas, see the Updates section above.


Map of Pipeline System Carrying Canadian Tar Sand Oil

Map of tar sand pipeline system from Canada to US Gulf Coast. Oil spill from tar sands pipeline in Arkansas. Pegasus pipeline went near residential neighborhood.

Pegasus Pipeline Spill Footage from Youtube

Pegasus Pipeline Spill Photo from Twitter

PHoto of Pegasus tar sand pipeline oil spilling between two homes.

Pipeline Spills Becoming More Costly

The Pegasus Pipeline spill of March 29 is part of a changing trend of onshore pipeline spills in the United States in which fewer spills occur each year but the value of damage is growing.

An examination of Federal data shows that the number of hazardous liquid spills declined from 152 in 1993 to 126 in 2012. The trend hit a low in 2006 with 104 spills and has been edging back up. (The three-year moving average of spills from 1996 to 2012 fell from 160 to 123.)

However, the dollar value assigned to the damage of the spills has grown significantly, from $39 million in 1993 to $105 million in 2012. (The government reported the figures in 2012 dollars.) The Kalamazoo River spill of 2010 boosted that year's damage above $1 billion. But the year before damage was $61 billion.


Pegasus Oil Spill Update Click for a Full Timeline


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Pegasus Oil Spill Timeline

2009
Jul 17
Exxon Mobil announced that it had completed an expansion project on the Pegasus pipeline that will increase its capacity by 50 percent to 90,000 barrels a day.

2013
Mar 29
Between 5,000 and 7,000 barrels of crude oil from Canadian tar sands spilled into a neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas. More than 20 homes were evacuated and a major clean up operation went into effect.
Apr 04
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel set an April 10 deadline for Exxon to comply with a subpoena for information about the Pegasus spill that had been issued earlier this week.
Apr 16
A new section pipeline was installed along the Pegasus route after damaged pipe had been removed for examination.
Apr 19
Officials began shifting efforts from clean up of the diluted bitumen oil spill to land remediation efforts. Further, water quality data was being posted by the Arkansas Dept. of Environmental Quality.
Apr 26
A local citizen group released a study saying that unusually high levels of 30 toxic chemicals remained suspended in the air near the Mayflower spill site.
May 01
Exxon reported a small spill from its Pegasus pipeline in Missouri, 200 miles north of the Mayflower, Arkansas, spill.
May 07
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said that harmful chemicals remain present in the environment near the Mayflower oil spill. He called on Exxon to provide more help to the neighborhood, including offering to purchase more homes than it has done so far. He also created a consumer issue task force to investigate complaints about over-priced clean-up products and services.
Jul 11
ExxonMobil blamed outdated manufacturing techniques for the failure of the pipeline. It said that a welding technique used in the 1940s, when the pipeline was installed, failed in the March 29 rupture.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality also released new data on the oil spill.
Jul 24
Legislation was introduced in Congress to forgive Federal income taxes on compensation that victims received from ExxonMobil.
Jul 30
ExxonMobil asked that discussions of removing its pipeline from the Lake Maumelle watershed be postponed until an investigation of the spill is complete. About 400,000 people derive water from that watershed.
Nov 06
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a notice of probable violations to Exxon Mobil in the spill, saying that the oil company failed to ensure the integrity of the pipeline. A PHMSA compliance officer recommended a civil fine of $2,659,200 for the violations.

2014
Mar 11
Exxon submits a report to Arkansas environmental regulators saying that the company's cleanup is essentially complete. Among its findings, Exxon said "no adverse effects are expected to ecological populations" from exposure to the small levels of toxic chemicals that remain in the environment after the spill. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said it was too soon to draw conclusions about the ecological health of the spill area.
Mar 31
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration gave Exxon approval to restart a southern segment of the Pegasus pipeline almost one year after the pipeline's rupture in Arkansas. The restarted section runs entirely in Texas and may only operate at 80 percent of the pressure used before the accident.