The Justice Department says two subsidiaries of Exxon Mobil have agreed to pay almost $5 million in government penalties from 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.
Assistant Attorney General John Cruden notes that Exxon Mobil doesn't admit liability in agreeing to the measures.
The Pegasus pipeline ruptured in March 2013, spilling thousands of gallons of oil into a Mayflower housing subdivision.
In a statement, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said:
This consent decree is a critical victory for the State and the Mayflower community. ExxonMobil was responsible for the damage to the environment and for disrupting lives of Arkansans. Today, ExxonMobil is being held accountable for the estimated 134,000 gallons of oil that flowed out of the ruptured pipeline.
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Becky Keogh said:
This settlement marks an important step forward. The civil penalty of $1 million will greatly supplement funds available for use to address emergency actions and to address contaminated sites across Arkansas. ADEQ has agreed to the use of $600,000 in the form of a Supplemental Environmental Project where the immediate local community will realize benefits. The project will improve water quality in Lake Conway and its watershed under a plan approved by and overseen by ADEQ.
Attorney Sam Ledbetter with the McMath Woods law firm represents residents suing the oil company and says the settlement "clearly establishes ExxonMobil’s liability for the rupture," but doesn't compensate those permanently impacted by the spill.