ExxonMobil’s 1940s-era Pegasus pipeline has been shut down since it ruptured more than a month ago in the Arkansas town of Mayflower, spilling tar-sands oil and making a big mess. But the company is legendary when it comes to spilling oil, and it wasn’t going to let a little pipeline shutdown hold back its oil-spilling ways.
The very same pipeline that blackened Mayflower has leaked oil into a yard and killed plants in Doniphan, Mo., some 170 miles northeast of Mayflower.
“My grandfather noticed an oil spill that was in the yard [on Friday, April 26,] and it got bigger so we were concerned that it was going to go into the well water because we have well water to drink,” said Lori Arbeau.
But the spill apparently was not reported until four days later.
Doniphan resident Robert Cooley reported the spill to Exxon Tuesday, April 30, after seeing oil and dead vegetation in front of his house that sits on about 18 acres of land owned by Arbeau’s parents, Guy and Pat Meadors.
“The release occurred from the installation of a guide wire for a power line pipe that was installed approximately 30 years ago,” a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said on Wednesday. “The guide wire was located almost directly on top of the pipeline and has worn down over the years.”
Crews were working into the evening on Wednesday to excavate the spilled oil.
The magnitude of the Doniphan spill, estimated to be a barrel’s worth of oil, pales when compared with the 5,000 or so barrels that spilled in Mayflower, forcing evacuation of a neighborhood. But the latest leak is a reminder of the ubiquitous and hazardous nature of the subterranean labyrinth of infrastructure that moves fossil fuels around America. It’s a labyrinth that would only be expanded if Keystone XL is allowed to move ahead.