Today the United States and the state of Arkansas filed a joint enforcement action against ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipe Line Company (ExxonMobil) in federal district court in Little Rock, Ark. The complaint addresses ExxonMobil’s unlawful discharge of heavy crude oil from a 20-inch-diameter interstate pipeline – the Pegasus Pipeline – that ruptured in Mayflower, Ark., on March 29, 2013.
As alleged in the complaint, a segment of the Pegasus Pipeline ruptured in a residential neighborhood in the town of Mayflower. The pipe was buried approximately two feet below the ground at that location. The oil spilled directly into the neighborhood and then into nearby waterways, including a creek, wetlands, and Lake Conway. Residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to the hazardous conditions in the neighborhood resulting from the spill. The oil has contaminated land and waterways and impacted human health and welfare, wildlife, and habitat. Cleanup efforts are still ongoing, and many residents still have not been able to return home.
The Pegasus Pipeline runs approximately 850 miles from Patoka, Ill., to Nederland, Texas. The pipeline is used to transport Canadian heavy crude oil. The pipeline originally was constructed in the 1940s.
The complaint alleges six causes of action against the defendants. The United States, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief under the federal Clean Water Act for the oil spill. The state of Arkansas, on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) by the authority of the Arkansas Attorney General, seeks civil penalties for violations of the Arkansas Hazardous Waste Management Act and the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. The state also seeks a declaratory judgment on ExxonMobil’s liability for payment of removal costs and damages related to the spill pursuant to the federal Oil Pollution Act.