MAUMELLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Since the March 29 ExxonMobil oil spill in Mayflower, there has been concern over the portion of the Pegasus Pipeline that runs through approximately 13 and half miles of the Maumelle Watershed.
Tuesday night, the 14 present members of the Pulaski County Quorum Court approved a resolution that would push ExxonMobil to relocate that portion of the pipeline. The purpose of moving the pipeline is to prevent it from rupturing and spilling oil into the Maumelle Watershed, which drains into Lake Maumelle. The lake provides drinking water to some 400,000 Central Arkansans.
The big concern is that if a pipeline rupture happened along the watershed, it would contaminate Lake Maumelle and pose a serious public health threat to the area. The quorum court feels that the sooner the pipeline is moved, the better.
"There's no value to waiting. There is no value to trying to mitigate things. We need to move the pipeline," Justice of the Peace Karilyn Brown said.
"I am not glad that what happened in Mayflower happened, but at least maybe this will give a renewed focus on the pipeline and our drinking water," Justice of the Peace Shane Stacks said.
This was just a resolution the quorum court approved; it will require cooperation with ExxonMobil.
THV 11 was not aware of a company spokesman being present at the meeting, but in a statement out earlier Tuesday, the company gave no promises. However, it said it is willing to keep the dialogue open on the concerns over the watershed.
Rachel L. Moore from Downstream Public and Governmental Affairs in the ExxonMobil Corporation gave THV 11 News this statement:
We are committed to maintaining an open dialogue with CAW and other stakeholders as we finalize our repair and restoration plans and evaluate longer term alternatives to address their concerns for protection of the lake and watershed.
THV 11 News has also learned that the city of Little Rock passed a similar resolution, and so has Central Arkansas Water. Congressman Tim Griffin also wrote a letter to Exxon pushing for the relocation of this pipeline away from the watershed.
Central Arkansas Water has requested ExxonMobil relocate the pipeline in the watershed area sometime over the next five years. In the meantime, CAW is pushing for some short term protection like more control valves, better access to the watershed and emergency response training for a possible rupture.