Tests find oil has reached Lake Conway, Exxon denies

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There is oil in Lake Conway, according to water tests conducted by Opflex Solutions, a company that specializes in oil spill clean-up. After citizen journalists documented water being pumped from the oil-contaminated cove to the main body of Lake Conway, it is hard to believe that anyone could claim oil hadn't reached the lake, but Exxon Mobil is sticking to their story. In the video above, KATV reports on the conflicting statements between the Opflex tests and those conducted by Exxon Mobil:

"Yes, there's oil in Lake Conway and there's oil downstream flowing into the

Arkansas River," said Scott Smith, who is president and CEO of Opflex Solutions.

Smith said to his understanding there's a discrepancy in Exxon's water testing. According to him, they test the surface and soil samples at the bottom, but his company is focusing on the water columns in-between.

"I have found methylene chloride and barium in concentrations indicative of tar sands oil," he added.

Here's video of the cove water being pumped into the main body of the lake. Attorney General McDaniel has also called out the misleading language Exxon is using by claiming there is no oil in the lake.

Meanwhile, Katherine Bagley at InsideClimate News reports that the federal investigation of the Mayflower oil spill is going to be conducted by an understaffed agency with close ties to the oil industry:

A 2011 investigation by the New York Times revealed that PHMSA is underfunded and understaffed. Some of the agency's employees also have professional ties to the fossil fuel industry. PHMSA administrator Cynthia Quarterman, for example, served as legal counsel for Enbridge, the culprit in the Michigan spill, before moving to her current position at the federal agency.

Kathryn Douglass, staff counsel for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), has been examining PHMSA's relationship with oil and gas companies. Using information gathered through Freedom of Information Act requests, she recently discovered that more than 99 percent of the meetings high-ranking PHMSA officials attend are with members of the pipeline industry.

PHMSA has "demonstrated its willingness to bend over backwards for the industry," she told InsideClimate News. "It wouldn’t surprise me if they closely involved Exxon in the investigation."

For all of our coverage on the Arkansas oil spill, see the links below.

More on the Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill
Contaminated water pumped into Lake Conway
Latest in Exxon oil spill reveals AG hired firm with oil industry ties
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As Exxon censors local media, citizen journalists document Arkansas oil spill. Can the pros be doing more?
Exxon pipeline breaks spilling 84,000 gallons of Canadian crude oil near Arkansas lake [UPDATED]
Are 'oiled' birds in Arkansas signs the Exxon oil spill has spread to Lake Conway? (UPDATED)
Exxon won't pay into cleanup fund because oil spilled in Arkansas isn't "oil"
Shocking aerial video shows magnitude of Arkansas oil spill, as cleanup continues and frustration at Exxon grows [VIDEOS]
As Exxon cleans oil spill in Arkansas, Shell pipeline spills 700 barrels in Houston
Exxon's Arkansas oil spill has reached Lake Conway, says Attorney General McDaniel
Mayflower, Arkansas "on lockdown" following Exxon oil spill
Arkansas oil spill could be almost 300,000 gallons, video shows alleged "dumping ground" in wetland (UPDATES)

Tags: Oil | Oil Spill