ExxonMobil Sued for Oil Spill in Arkansas

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A lawsuit filed yesterday by the state of Arkansas and the U.S. government against ExxonMobil's pipeline division seeks penalties for a March 29 pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 150,000 gallons of crude oil, the Arkansas Attorney General announced.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., was brought on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The feds and the state are seeking civil damages as well as a judgment against Exxon for costs associated with the cleanup and damages caused by a rupture of its Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark.

According to the suit, Canadian heavy crude oil spilled from the ruptured pipeline and flowed into nearby waterways, through the local neighborhood, and into a lake.

An ExxonMobil spokesman said in an email to The Associated Press that the company hadn't been served the lawsuit and had no specific comment. "That said, we will continue to cooperate with all federal, state and local agencies," spokesman Aaron Stryk said. Stryk said the company has recovered about 63,000 gallons of the spilled oil and the cleanup is continuing.

The federal government is seeking civil penalties, claiming the rupture of Exxon's pipeline violated the Clean Water Act. According to the Arkansas press release, state law says civil penalties for violating the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act, an allegation brought forth in the suit, allow for fines up to $10,000 per day.

Additionally, the state alleges that Exxon has stored waste from its prior cleanup efforts at a local site without acquiring a permit from ADEQ, a violation of the Hazardous Waste Management Act. The civil penalty for violating the state's Hazardous Waste Management Act is up to $25,000 a day. The lawsuit seeks penalties of $1,100 per barrel of spilled oil under the federal Clean Water Act, according to the AP. A barrel is equal to 31.5 gallons.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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