Arkansas Official to Answer Questions at Mayflower Oil Spill Town Hall

Sep 25, 2013

A town hall meeting from this summer.
Credit KUAR

Nearly six months out from the oil spill in Mayflower residents are getting a chance to speak directly with a state official at a town hall at Hendrix College this Thursday from 1-7 p.m. Emily Lane with the Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group said it’s been a struggle to get public officials to listen to residents at public forums.

Dr. William Mason, the Emergency Response Branch Chief at the Arkansas Department of Health, is among the first and will participate in a 60 minute Q & A.

“We have been, I hate to use the word begging, but we have tried really hard. We’re not trying to inject our opinions, we’re trying to educate and just facilitate these meetings. I’m really glad he has finally decided to join this meeting and I think it’s going to be great,” said Lane.

Some residents of Mayflower have concerns over testing methodologies, health screenings, and the responsiveness of government agencies. She said concerns of air quality tests monitoring the carcinogen benzene are of interest to many around the Northwoods subdivision and nearby Snuggs Circle.

“The fact that they’re using this minimum standard of 50 parts per billion to say this is safe, that’s just not acceptable when in other places 50 parts per billion is five time over safe levels. We don’t need these people to go back into their homes. So, we want to know where that 50 parts per billion came from and why they’re using it,” said Lane.

A World Health Organization study claims "no safe level of exposure can be recommended."

Further criticisms were made by Lane regarding health screenings provided recently by the state, after a push from Congressmen Tim Griffin. Lane said they were insufficient because they relied on nurses and telemedicine instead of specialists and that the screenings were not promoted well in local media outlets.