Tar sands oil spill: ruptured pipe pours 200,000 gallons of oil into suburban neighborhood (photos)

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
April 04, 2013



Last Saturday, an oil pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas spilling between 3,500-5,000 barrels of crude (at most 210,000 gallons) into neighborhood streets and lawns. Families from 22 homes have been evacuated while clean-up crews have scrambled to contain the spill. ExxonMobil, which runs the 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline, has stated it will pay for any damage, however critics say the oil spill is more evidence that the Obama Administration should turn down the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The spill—although small compared to the Enbridge tar sands oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 (which spilled over a million gallons)—has already taken a toll on local wildlife. The Associated Press reports that officials have collected a number of oiled animals from a nearby marsh that was befouled, including 16 birds, nine reptiles, a beaver, and a muskrat. Seven ducks have been found dead.

Unlike regular oil, tar sands oil (made up of bitumen and natural gas liquids) does not float on water but sinks, making clean-up efforts more difficult and costly. To date, the oil spill in Kalamazoo has cost over $700 million and cleaning is still going on.

Environmental groups say that the spill in Mayflower raises more red flags about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil 1,700 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for international trade.

"These oil pipelines inevitably spill again and again, fouling our rivers, neighborhoods and wildlife habitat," Jerry Karnas, field director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Building even more pipelines like Keystone XL across the heart of the American Midwest is only courting more trouble and more terrible spills."

The state of Arkansas has said it will investigate the spill and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has ordered that ExxonMobil hand over all documents related to the spill by April 10th.

In March, ExxonMobil was fined $1.7 million for an oil spill on the Yellowstone River in 2011.



Tar sands oil spill from the Pegasus pipeline contaminates marsh, killing wildlife. Photo by: Karen E. Seagrave/Greenpeace.
Tar sands oil spill from the Pegasus pipeline contaminates marsh, killing wildlife. Photo by: Karen E. Seagrave/Greenpeace.



the Muenster yellow-toothed cavy
Mayflower neighborhood after oil spill. Photo by: Karen E. Seagrave/Greenpeace.















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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (April 04, 2013).

Tar sands oil spill: ruptured pipe pours 200,000 gallons of oil into suburban neighborhood (photos).

http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0404-hance-mayflower-spill.html