US, Arkansas file joint complaint against ExxonMobil for oil leak

The US and State of Arkansas filed a joint civil lawsuit in federal court against two ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiaries stemming from a Mar. 29 rupture of their Pegasus pipeline that leaked heavy crude oil into a Mayflower, Ark., neighborhood and nearby waterways.

The June 13 complaint in US District Court for Arkansas’s Eastern District said cleanup efforts continue from the spill that forced residents to evacuate their homes and contaminated land and waterways.

It noted that the 850-mile, 20-in. pipeline, which carries Canadian heavy crude from Patoka, Ill., to Nederland, Tex., originally was constructed in the 1940s. ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. operates the line and Mobil Pipe Line Co. owns it, the complaint said.

The US Department of Justice, on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s behalf, seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief under the federal Clean Water Act for the spill. Arkansas seeks civil penalties on behalf of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality for alleged violations of its water and air pollution control law and its hazardous waste management act.

Arkansas also is asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment against the defendants for payment of removal costs and damages under authority granted to the state in the federal Oil Pollution Act, Atty. Gen. Dustin McDaniel said.

Arkansas law provides for daily civil penalties of $10,000/violation under its Water and Air Pollution Control Act, he noted. “As the party responsible for this incident, ExxonMobil is also responsible for the penalties imposed by the state for the damage to our environment and the company should foot the bill for the state’s clean-up costs,” McDaniel said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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