So far, the thousands of barrels of tar-sands oil that spilled into a middle-class neighborhood in central Arkansas on Friday have driven 22 families from their homes and killed and injured a grip of local wildlife. So far, the oil hasn’t contaminated the local lake or drinking water supply, according to ExxonMobil. It’s a “major spill,” according to the EPA, and the cause is so far still under investigation.
But since it’s not oil-oil, ExxonMobil hasn’t paid into the government clean-up fund that would help bankroll the epic scrub-down necessary to rid poor unsuspecting Mayflower, Ark., of all that bitumen.
“A 1980 law ensures that diluted bitumen is not classified as oil, and companies transporting it in pipelines do not have to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund,” writes Ryan Koronowski at Climate Progress. “Other conventional crude producers pay 8 cents a barrel to ensure the fund has resources to help clean up some of the 54,000 barrels of pipeline oil that spilled 364 times last year.”
Here, this helpful infographic might clear things up for you:
Naturally, ExxonMobil is feeling defensive about the whole “incident,” i.e. “release,” i.e. motherfucking oil spill. Today’s corporate headquarters update makes no mention of how many barrels of tar-sands oil actually hit the ground in Mayflower, but includes lots of numbers on vacuum trucks, storage tanks, responders, and claims (140 as of today). “A few thousand barrels of oil were observed in the area; a response for 10,000 barrels has been undertaken to ensure adequate resources are in place.”
ExxonMobil will pay for cleanup costs in Mayflower AR. Allegations to the contrary are not true.
— ExxonMobil (@exxonmobil) April 3, 2013
DeSmogBlog ain’t buying it: After a look through ExxonMobil’s spill history, they found the company has a record of paying for immediate clean-up efforts but not for damages. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Exxon spontaneously grows a conscience this time — and hope all those other pipelines hold.