By ALISON SIDER
Crews cleaned up thousands of barrels of crude over the weekend after an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured and polluted an Arkansas town -- an incident that underscored the fragility of the US pipeline network.
Exxon said Friday's breach caused a few thousand barrels of oil to spill into Mayflower, a town of less than 3,000 about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock. The Environmental Protection Agency called it a "major spill," a category that includes any spill larger than 250 barrels.
More than 20 homes were evacuated. Other neighbors left to avoid the smell or breathing problems exacerbated by fumes, said state Rep. Doug House, a Republican from North Little Rock whose district includes Mayflower. He added that air monitors have found the air is safe in most areas.
Exxon said the pipeline, which is buried two feet underground, has been shut down.
A spokesman for the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Sunday that an inspector was investigating the cause of the breach in the pipeline.
Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast, on Sunday drew links between the Arkansas incident and Keystone. Steve Kretzmann, executive director of nonprofit advocacy group Oil Change International, predicted more incidents like the one in Mayflower if Keystone is built.
In a review last month, the US State Department didn't find major environmental risks associated with Keystone. The agency said TransCanada had agreed to conditions to reduce risks of spills or leaks.
Dow Jones Newswires