When we first learned that the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline had ruptured and spilled oil into a neighborhood Mayflower, Arkansas, the oil giant was quick to claim that no oil had reached a nearby wetland and cove of Lake Conway. Now, as we've seen from the shocking aerial footage and the excellent guerilla reporting done by TarSandsBlockade activists, the heavy crude oil has not only reached the wetlands, cove and Lake Conway, but has done so in devastating fashion to local residents and wildlife.
If you haven't seen it, here again is the video from TarSandsBlockade showing the oil in the wetlands. (Note: we cannot confirm their report that the oil was pumped here deliberately for later cleanup.)
To her credit, Rachel Maddow has been one of the few national media figures to continue reporting on this story. She had a good segment Monday night highlighting this video and Exxon's use of paper towels as a method of oil spill cleanup:
Arkansas' KATV also picked up on the Tar Sands Blockade video:
Last week, I posted about Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's statement that oil had reached Lake Conway. Maria Gallucci at Inside Climate News reports on the continued disconnect between what is or isn't Lake Conway:
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told reporters, "I don't understand where this distinction is coming from. ...The cove is part of Lake Conway."
On Saturday, Exxon acknowledged that subtlety for the first time. "There is no oil in the main body of Lake Conway," according to a news release on Apr. 6—and an Exxon spokesperson on Tuesday.
Writing at The Arkansas Times, David Koon and Leslie Newell Peacock ask: Will Mayflower ever be the same after the Exxon spill?
The easy answer is no, but here's why:
"We know from other events like this that there is wildlife that moves back into the degraded habitat," picking up contaminants and spreading them, Cash said. Also, he said, "there may not be black crude" in Lake Conway, but the naphthalene in the crude will leach into the cove's water, which can't be fully blocked from the lake.
Today, the focus is on clean-up. "What will be important," Cash said, is what kind of shape the area is in "two years from now."
Eric Moll with TarSandsBlockade explains why this spill is different:
"This stuff is not crude oil," he said. "It's a lot more dangerous than crude oil. It's harder to clean up. Crude oil floats so you can scrape it off the top of water or get it with a boom. Dilbit — diluted bitumen, or tar sands — sinks, so it can never really be cleaned up. We're seeing from the Kalamazoo River spill of 2010 that it still isn't cleaned up. People are still sick. People are still getting sick."
KATV reports that the fumes from the oil spill are affecting the health of Mayflower residents:
KATV visited the site of the rupture, but was not allowed to see the pipeline:
KARK spoke with Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel about the steps his office is taking to take legal action against Exxon. Sorry, the video is non-embeddable.
Today is the deadline for Exxon to comply with a request from the Attorney General to provide documents related to the spill.
A class action lawsuit against ExxonMobil could include hundreds of Arkansas residents:
THV11 has many more videos on the oil spill here.
KARK has another non-embeddable video showing some of the oiled wildlife being released back into the wild.
I'll continue to update this story as more news comes in.
UPDATE: Well, this is not good. A tornado watch has been issued for Mayflower, Arkansas. Strong winds and heavy rain could spread the oil recontaminating areas that have already been cleaned. For the latest weather news, follow the #ARwx hashtag on Twitter. A tornado warning had previously been issued, but has since been canceled.
UPDATE III: In a press conference Wednesday night, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel shared some important news on the severity of the pipeline rupture. McDaniel said there was a gash in the pipeline "22 feet long and two inches wide." He also said Exxon had delivered 12,587 pages of Exxon documents of evidence related to the pipeline shortly before his requested deadline.
UPDATE IV: The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Arkansas oil spill will come up in a hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, which will run through Nebraska.
More on the Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill
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)
MORE: See all of our Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill coverage here.