ExxonMobil faces lawsuit after Arkansas oil spill

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

Two residents in Mayflower, AR, have filed a class-action lawsuit against ExxonMobil after a pipeline rupture that allowed thousands of barrels of heavy crude oil to flow into a residential area on March 29. They are seeking more than $5 million in damages. As many as 22 homes had to be evacuated and wildlife was endangered.

“This Arkansas class action lawsuit involves the worst crude oil and tar sands spill in Arkansas history,” read the lawsuit, which was filed April 5 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas.

According to the lawsuit, more than 19,000 barrels were spilled. ExxonMobil has said that between 3,500 and 5,000 barrels of heavy crude leaked from the ruptured pipeline. It has promised to cover cleanup costs.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel opened an investigation into what caused a two or 3-inch gash in the underground Pegasus pipeline, which began spilling crude on March 29.

The pipeline carries Canadian crude oil over 800 miles from Patoka, IL, to Nederland, TX.

The spill revitalized debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian crude from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.