It’s been more than two weeks since the ExxonMobil Pegasus Pipeline burst in May Flower, spilling around 5,000 barrels of heavy crude oil into a residential subdivision while endangering local wetlands and wildlife. Local officials have begun to call for a portion of the pipeline, which runs through the Lake Maumelle Watershed, to be relocated.
Second District Congressman Tim Griffin joined officials from Central Arkansas Water today, requesting that the oil company move the pipeline away from the watershed. He says he plans on meeting with local officials and Exxon starting this week. “I don’t think we have a set way that we’re going to go about this,” says Griffin. “We’ll do a lot of talking and discussing it and organizing it and making our case and we’ll do whatever it takes to get it moved. This is the beginning of the process.”
Griffin says he feels the pipeline runs too close to the lake which provides water for nearly 400,000 residents of Central Arkansas.
From his letter to ExxonMobil: “I am especially concerned that the steepness of the shoreline at Lake Maumelle could exacerbate contamination of the water supply in the event of an oil spill and make cleanup more difficult…. I urge ExxonMobil to develop and implement CAW’s request and work to provide an effective plan to relocate the pipeline.”
Griffin continues to trust the work being done to clean up the Mayflower Oil Spill, despite some worries from residents that the air may still be unsafe to breathe.
He says he trusts the measures the state Department of Health has taken to ensure everyone’s safety. “They have the decision [to assess health risks], not Exxon. The Governor’s Health Department decides who moves in, whether it’s safe, et cetera. The EPA is there as well. I’ve generally got confidence in them but I have been concerned that people still believe that there are health issues. We need to make sure that issue is raised and their concerns are addressed.”
Griffin remains a supporter of the plan by TransCanada to move forward with installing the Keystone XL Pipeline, despite objections raised by environmentalists and despite the damage done by the recent spill in Mayflower.
“To conflate every pipeline in America as all the same is just nonsense. They are each individually different. They go in different places. Pipelines have risk but pipelines are safer than any other alternative we have,” Griffin asserts.
The Keystone XL, if completed, would run across the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking and irrigation water to residents of Nebraska. Griffin says much research has been done to prove the safety of that pipeline.