MAYFLOWER, Ark. — A vice president at ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. says it’s possible a 65-year-old pipe that leaked oil into a Mayflower neighborhood could be taken out of service.
Karen Tyrone, the company’s vice president of operations, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story published Thursday that it is too early to know whether the Pegasus pipeline will be closed.
“It is within the realm of possibilities and considerations,” she said, adding that a decision will be reached following an investigation that could take a year or more.
“I recognize people want answers, as do we, but we’re not going to rush the investigation. And until that’s done, we won’t know what the right thing to do with the pipeline is and exactly what’s required to ensure the integrity of that pipeline,” she said.
The line carries heavy Canadian crude from Illinois to the Texas Gulf Coast. A seam ripped in late March, spilling 210,000 gallons in Mayflower and threatening nearby Lake Conway.
Tyrone said pipeline inspections in 2010 found “anomalies that we had to address” but that no trouble was found in the section of pipe near Mayflower back then or during other tests in February.
The pipeline was made with a type of steel that federal regulators have warned for 25 years is prone to splitting along long, welded seams.
Later Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., released two reports from the 2010 Exxon Mobil inspection. One report said seam weld defects were distributed throughout the pipeline.
The pipeline will not be restarted until the company and federal government are sure it’s safe to do so, Tyrone said.
The Mayflower rupture forced long-term evacuations of 22 homes in the Northwoods subdivision. Most of those homeowners have not moved back, and Exxon Mobil has offered to buy the houses.