By ALISON SIDER
The Arkansas Attorney General's office is opening an
investigation into the causes of an ExxonMobil pipeline rupture
that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into a small town
neighborhood last week and forced the evacuation of more than
In a letter to Exxon, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said
the probe will determine whether the oil giant may be liable
for the consequences of the spill under the Arkansas Water and
Air Pollution Act and other laws.
"There are many questions and concerns remaining as to the
long-term impacts, environmental and otherwise, from
this spill," he wrote Tuesday, asking the company to retain all
its documents and data relevant to the spill and cleanup
Exxon's Pegasus Pipeline, a 95,000 bpd conduit that was
carrying heavy Canadian crude from Illinois to the Texas Gulf
Coast, last Friday leaked into a neighborhood of
Mayflower, Ark., about 25 miles northwest of the state capitol
of Little Rock.
The cause of the spill is still unknown, and Exxon said
Monday that it plans to excavate and remove the affected
section of pipe to take a closer look. Early this week, oil was
still being removed from streets and yards and some residents
were still unable to return to their homes.
In an interview, Mr. McDaniel declined to speculate on the
total cost of the spill, but he said the state's claims could
include damages to groundwater and surface impacts including
lost tourism dollars from nearby Lake Conway and the impact to
Drawing a parallel to BP's payments to businesses affected
by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico,
though on a "much, much smaller scale," Mr. McDaniel said he
had communicated with attorneys general in Mississippi and
Louisiana about their states' responses to oil spills.
"It's certainly the first time since I've been attorney
general that I've had to take this kind of action with this
kind of environmental incident," he said.
"On a much, much smaller scale than what we saw BP have to pay
in the Gulf, if businesses or the economy, in addition to our
natural resources, were damaged by the rupture in the pipeline,
then obviously it's going to be incumbent on the attorney
general's office" to explore the state's options, Mr. McDaniel
Mr. McDaniel said the state attorney general's office and
the state Insurance Department would assist homeowners with
their private claims against Exxon if needed.
Dow Jones Newswires