Workers on Monday removed a 52-foot section of a buried pipeline that ruptured last month in Mayflower, spilling more than 200,000 gallons of raw crude oil.
It’s being sent to an independent lab for analysis, said ExxonMobil spokeswoman Kim Jordan. “We want to learn the cause of the breach.”
Jordan was at the site, describing the process in a telephone interview with KUAR News as workers were cutting the pipe at safe distances from each end of the 22-foot gash.
“We’ve taken precautions so that we’re cutting further out, far enough outside of the crack so that the affected portion stays intact as it’s lifted out,” Jordan said.
Workers in fire retardant clothing were in a hole dug around the 20 inch pipe, which was eventually lifted up using a crane and placed on the back of a flatbed truck.
It is being transported to a lab where the 65-year-old pipe will be carefully inspected and tested, Jordan said.
None of the residents of 22 houses in the Northwoods neighborhood have returned, even though some furthest from the spill have been told it is safe to do so.
Some have said they’re waiting until heavy machinery is removed. Others have said they’re wanting to learn more about possible long-term health risks.
Jordan said ExxonMobil has no estimate on how much longer workers will remain cleaning contaminated areas in the neighborhood, saying “we will be on-site until this job is done.”
The company says it is paying for the cleanup and all damage done.
Meanwhile Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel continues a state investigation into the cause and response to the cleanup, which he has said is a precursor to litigation.