MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KTHV) - The 2013 ExxonMobil oil spill impacted more than the people living in Mayflower, it also affected the water and land around them. In the months following the spill, environmental workers, health officials, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked around-the-clock to evaluate the area that had been flooded with hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil.
One of the biggest concerns after the oil pipeline ruptured was the nearby Lake Conway, where fishermen were always aplenty. Despite the flowing oil around the area, it does not appear the major lake was directly affected.
Since last March, official studies conducted by the Arkansas Dept. of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have shown no signs of tar sands oil in the main body of Lake Conway. Mark Oliver, Chief of Fisheries for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, wants visitors to the lake to be assured that the fish have seen no impact.
"We've done a lot of testing and we're convinced there's nothing to cause anybody any harm now," said Oliver.
The rupture of the pipeline created a threat for Lake Conway, but thanks to the Mayflower Street Department and several game and fish employees, oil was stopped from reaching the main body of the lake.
"We were very concerned that this much oil, what kind of impact it would have on the fish in the lake. You know all the aquatic organisms," said Oliver.
After months of testing by Game and Fish biologists and ADEQ officials, Lake Conway looks to be unharmed.
Lab analysis of fish flesh from the lake showed no signs of oil ingested. It appears the fish are biting and the 6,700 acre man-made lake may have been sparred of the nearby disaster.