An Exxon-Mobil oil pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon in the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, forcing the evacuation of 20 homes and shutting down sections of interstate highway. According to Little Rock’s KATV, a hazardous materials team from the Office of Emergency Management has contained the spill and is currently attempting a cleanup.
The burst pipe is part of the Pegasus pipeline network, which connects tar sands along the Gulf coast to refineries in Houston. Thousands of gallons of crude oil erupted from the breach around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, spilling through a housing subdivision and into the town’s storm drainage system, fouling drainage ditches and shutting down Highway 365 and Interstate 40.
Residents were evacuated to avoid health hazards from crude oil fumes and to keep stray sparks from igniting the standing oil. Emergency workers contained the spill by hastily constructing earthen dams.
Exxon-Mobil reportedly has a crew investigating the accident. The company released a statement Friday that read, in part, “We are working with emergency responders and local authorities to respond to the incident and are establishing an information line for community support. We regret that this incident has occurred and we apologize for any disruption or inconvenience this has caused.”
The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission told Channel 7 News that, as an interstate pipeline, Pegasus has no local control, oversight or inspection. Only federal officials from the Pipeline and Hazard Material Safety Administration are authorized to inspect and maintain the pipeline.
Watch video about this story, embedded below via KATV:
(hat-tip to Crooks and Liars)