Residents Still Kept From Homes Because Of Oil Spill

Apr 1, 2013

A worker uses a vacuum truck to suck oil out of a ditch along I-40, near the oil spill in Mayflower.
Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

It could be several more days before nearly two dozen residents of a neighborhood in Mayflower will be able to return to their homes.

Crews continue cleaning up after an oil pipeline broke Friday.

Walking through the neighborhood, there’s still the distinct smell of oil, though Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson says it’s certainly much better than it was.

“We’ve got all the free-standing oil off of the street.  There’s still residue there and we’re in the process of trying to remove that residue from the street,” Dodson said.  “We’re continuing cleanup efforts and vac efforts along the flow of oil, where it flowed through the drainage system and drainage ditches.”

Some yards are still blackened from where the oil soaked in, with a small army of workers brought in by Exxon-Mobil to clean it up. 

“Well the first thing we want to tell the people here is how sorry we are,” said company spokesman Alan Jeffers, after going through the neighborhood with local officials.

“This is not something we want to happen and it’s not something that should happen.  So we’re very sorry and we apologize for all the inconveniences.”

Residents in the well-groomed neighborhood are only being allowed brief visits to get essential items from their homes.

They were initially told it would only be a couple of days, but have now learned it could be next week before some are allowed back to stay. 

The Exxon-Mobil spokesman says conditions are better now.

“We’ve taken air quality readings and the air quality readings are fine now, so we’re asking the Department of Health to have a look at those readings and they’re going to do an analysis and it’s their decision when the people get back.”

Jeffers says it’s still unclear what caused the underground 1940s-era pipeline to rupture. 

He also assured community leaders that the company will spend the millions of dollars it will take to clean up the sticky oil and minimize the impact to the environment.

Video of oil spill taken by resident: