Rep. Griffin Growing Impatient About Delays For Explanations On Pipeline Inspections

Aug 1, 2013

Rep. Tim Griffin

Congressman Tim Griffin is to meet Thursday with representatives of the federal agency that oversees pipeline safety to express his growing frustration with the slow response to requests for help in assessing inspection report data.

The full forensic metallurgical report on the cause of the rupture of the 65-year-old ExxonMobil pipeline in Mayflower on March 29 has been released, primarily blaming original manufacturing defects.

But in an interview with KUAR News, Griffin said wants more information about inspections of the pipeline that were done in 2010 and this February,  one month before the spill, which sent an estimated 150,000 gallons of tar sands crude flowing down the streets of a residential neighborhood.

"Most of the questions at this point relate to what was detected and why was a manufacturing flaw not detected and what does that say about about the inspection methodology that is employed by ExxonMobil and PHMSA," Griffin said.

PHMSA is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Griffin has been given the raw data from the two inspections, but says he’s growing impatient with delays in providing more explanations about what the data means.  He says it's essentially numbers on spreadsheets don't make any sense without further explanation.

"There are just a number of questions, many of which are quite technical in nature, so I have requested that ExxonMobil provide their top technical expert who can walk us through the raw, pre-spill inspection data," Griffin said.

ExxonMobil has said it takes time to prepare reports about the inspections because that data has to be run through computer programs to get a full picture of what they show.

Griffin warns that if PHMSA or the oil giant don’t provide more explanation, he will release the reports on his own and seek outside analysis.

Griffin has joined with officials from Central Arkansas Water, local mayors and others who are wanting the Pegasus pipeline  moved outside of the Lake Maumelle Watershed, which is the region’s primary source of drinking water.