Crews remove part of pipeline after Ark. oil spill

MAYFLOWER, Ark. — Crews on Monday removed a damaged piece of pipeline from which thousands of barrels of oil spilled in central Arkansas last month, as investigators try to determine what caused the rupture.

The damaged piece of ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.’s Pegasus pipeline is headed to Hurst Metallurgical Research Laboratory in Euless, Texas, for testing, company spokeswoman Kim Jordan said.

Officials still haven’t said what caused the pipeline to rupture March 29 and spill an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil in Mayflower, a community about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock.

ExxonMobil has said the oil spill didn’t affect Mayflower’s drinking water supply, which comes from a lake about 65 miles away.

But that hasn’t allayed concerns about drinking water in the region, as the pipeline runs through part of the Lake Maumelle Watershed, which drains into the main drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people in Little Rock and nearby communities.

So attorneys for Central Arkansas Water sent a letter to ExxonMobil about moving the pipeline away from the Lake Maumelle Watershed to ensure safe drinking water.

“The only way to eliminate all risks to health and safety to CAW’s drinking water supply is to relocate the Pegasus Pipeline out of the Lake Maumelle watershed,” the attorneys wrote in a letter dated Friday.

Jordan, the ExxonMobil spokeswoman, said the company will respond to Central Arkansas Water’s request.