More than six months after Exxon Mobil's Pegasus Pipeline ruptured and spilled 5,000 - 7,000 barrels of diluted bitumen or tar sands oil into a Mayflower, Arkansas neighborhood, clean-up is still underway, as two homes have just been leveled by Exxon in order to remove oil that was found under their foundations.
Max Brantley at The Arkansas Times reports:
Two houses are coming down today; negotiations continue on what's to be done about other houses in the subdivision. Even Exxon says it's the only way in the case of these two houses to be sure the cleanup is complete near ground zero of the spill.
The first house, at 32 North Starlite, was acquired by Mobil Pipeline Co. on Aug. 26 for $151,000, according to assessor's records. Charles Williams bought the house in 2009 for $130,000. It was gone in an hour or so. The second house, at 36 N. Starlite, was purchased Aug. 21 by Mobile Pipeline for $177,000. It had been bought in April 2012 for $180,000 by Daneshia Roberts-Modica and Jose Modica, again all according to assessor records.
Courtney Spradlin, a reporter for Conway, Arkansas' Log Cabin Democrat newspaper shared these two pictures of the demolition via Twitter:
ArkansasOnline has a non-embeddable timelapse video of the demolition.
I can't say I'm surprised it has come to this. When I first saw the images of oil flowing through the yards and streets of the neighborhood, it was hard to imagine that anyone would want to or be able to live in these homes ever again.
Yet, it is still shocking to see the homes actually coming down. A commenter at Arkansas Times raised a good point about the wastefulness of this demolition:
No salvage at all?
I guess they can just lug it all and dump it in the nearest landfill, just like what they probably did the dirt they hauled off from the wetlands/woodlands cove that is now a meadow looking area as viewed from I-40.
Habitat for humanity would gladly have relieved them of garage doors, light fixtures, windows, gutters and downspouts etc. Hard to believe heavy hydrocarbons would infuse into a metal garage door etc.
Those are items visible in the demo photo. I suspect if they weren't salvaging those neither were they doing sinks, toilets, furnaces, HVAC, doors....
It's a good point, but I am not surprised Exxon didn't donate materials from the homes. They are already facing so many legal challenges for the legitimate health problems they have caused to residents in the area that I can't imagine they would open themselves up to additional risk by allowing materials from these homes to be used.
Ironically, Exxon spokesman Aaron Stryk says that the two lots will become "green space" after the contaminated soil is removed and new soil and sod are added.
This is just the latest in what has become a long series of tragic and frustrating developments in this story. Local residents are suffering health problems after the spill, legal fights between Arkansas and Exxon are underway and concerns over the safety of transporting tar sands via pipeline have been raised.
For more on all of these stories, check out our complete coverage of the Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill.