UPDATE: Exxon Witholding Reports Lake Maumelle Watershed Officials Want
Central Arkansas officials say they’re ready to take further action to know the results of pre-oil spill inspection reports for the Pegasus Pipeline running through the Lake Maumelle Watershed.
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines says it’s important to have the most recent inspection reports for the pipeline, particularly the one conducted just six weeks before the pipeline ruptured in Mayflower.
He says if Exxon has nothing to hide, he doesn’t see why this would be problematic.
“They did this evaluation, checking the strength and viability of the pipeline, and they did it in January. And here a month or so after that the pipeline ruptures. Well, we want to know what that said. If it said everything looked fine, then why don't they release it? Why shouldn't we be reassured that's what it said? That concerns me that they did not see that as something they could or should do, and I want to know," says Villines
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – or PHMSA – has told the Lake Maumelle Governmental Stakeholders – a group including mayors, congressmen, judges, and watershed officials – that, for now, they will honor Exxon’s June 10th request for “confidential treatment” to keep the documents sealed until they have more time to review the request.
PHMSA also says it does not keep on file some of the other documents requested concerning Exxon’s plans to manage the integrity of the pipeline over the decades.
The pipeline inspection results may tell officials what caused the pipeline to rupture. If so, questions may arise as to what actions Exxon took to address any problems. However, if the tests come back without detecting anomalies, it could call into question the process and technologies behind testing.
After publishing our story on Tuesday ExxonMobil Communications and Media Advisor Aaron Stryk e-mailed this response:
The information from our pipeline inspections is provided to PHMSA. Some of the information relating to pipeline operations and maintenance is confidential in nature due to commercial and other considerations. We have been actively collaborating with Central Arkansas Water and will continue to work with them to understand and address their concerns.
We sincerely regret that the crude oil release in Mayflower occurred and apologize for the disruption and inconvenience that it has caused to the citizens of Arkansas. We will not restart the Pegasus Pipeline until we are satisfied it is safe to do so and have the approval of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.