Oil spill clean up efforts, April 1 (Photo: Steve Payne, THV 11)
MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KTHV) - The Exxon oil pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas Friday stunned a community, especially those residents in the area who did not know there was a pipeline going through their backyards.
Many Arkansans, including Mayflower resident Mike Oswald, didn't know it existed, which made the crude oil flowing through the neighborhood quite a surprise. The pipeline doesn't just run through Faulkner County; it crosses the entire Natural State, running from Illinois to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Within Arkansas, it runs from northeastern Randolph County, through Lawrence and Independence Counties, crossing White, Faulkner, Pulaski, and the tip of Perry Counties, then going into Garland, Howard, and Pike Counties before it exits the state through Little River County.
Officials with the Arkansas Geological Commission say most of the pipeline is buried underground, except for places where it crosses a body of water. There are published maps of the pipeline - and all pipelines throughout the country. After September 11, 2001, details of its location were somewhat suppressed, but the information has become more public since then.
While the information is public and was not kept a secret, Oswald and some other residents think they should have been specifically informed about it.
"They should (have told us) before we bought the house," said resident Christian Alexander. "What is underground? What is the house on?"
Oswald is concerned now about the health effects of oil fumes in the air.
"I'm just hoping no one gets sick," he said, also noting that his mother has experienced headaches since the incident.
While Oswald is concerned about the long-term impacts of the oil spill, he said Exxon has been responsive. He said Exxon officials were on scene immediately and have performed air quality tests within his home.
For those directly affected by the oil spill, Exxon has a line set up to handle insurance claims and questions. That number is (800) 876-9291. Exxon has not released an estimate on how long it will take to clean up the spilled oil.