The Justice Department said Wednesday that two subsidiaries of Exxon Mobil have agreed to pay almost $5 million in penalties for a 2013 oil spill in a central Arkansas community.
As part of a consent decree set to be filed in a Little Rock federal court Wednesday, the companies would pay about $3.2 million in federal civil penalties in addition to addressing pipeline safety issues and oil-response capacity. They would pay $1 million in state civil penalties, $600,000 for a project to improve water quality at Lake Conway and $280,000 for the state's legal costs, according to the Justice Department.
The Pegasus pipeline ruptured in March 2013, spilling more than 134,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil into housing subdivision in the town of Mayflower, located about 25 miles from the capital city of Little Rock. The oil, which was being carried from Illinois to Texas, contaminated dozens of homes, forcing residents to evacuate. It also flowed into a creek, local wetlands and a cove of Lake Conway.
The lawsuit said the Pegasus pipeline was buried less than a meter below the ground in Mayflower.
“Oil spills like this one in Mayflower, Arkansas have real and lasting impacts on clean water for communities,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement. “Companies need to take the necessary precautions to make sure oil is transported safely and responsibly.”
The ruptured segment of the pipeline has not been used since the spill and can’t be reinstated until Exxon adheres to all the corrective actions set out by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Assistant Attorney Gen. John Cruden noted that Exxon Mobil doesn't admit liability in agreeing to the measures.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press