MAYFLOWER, AR — ExxonMobil documents released by a federal agency investigating the spill of an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil into a residential neighborhood, spell out a litany of dangerous compounds associated with that particular type of crude.
Under a section titled “Potential Health Affects” ExxonMobil says its so-called Wabasca heavy crude “may cause cancer.”
“If anything happens in the next 10, 20, 50 years of my children’s lives, you think, ‘I wonder if that was caused by any kind of long-term affects from the spill,'” said Chris Harrell, a resident of the Northwoods subdivision where the spill happened.
Another section of the documents warns that the crude is “toxic to aquatic life” and “may cause long term adverse affects in the aquatic environment.”
“That’s a big deal economically for the area, because sport fishing is major here,” said Harrell.
ExxonMobil declined our request for an on-camera interview Friday. Over the phone spokesman Alan Jeffers pointed to air and sampling being conducted by ExxonMobil and government agencies.
“The levels are below established health action levels,” said Nicolas Brescia with the U.S. E.P.A.
Both the U.S. E.P.A. and Arkansas Department of Health say that means the people of Mayflower are not at risk for the type of health and environmental affects laid out in ExxonMobil’s report.
“Yeah, that all sounds good,” Harrell said. “I hope they’re right, but you won’t know.”
Jeffers said ExxonMobil is committed to continuing its work in Mayflower until the type of threats noted in the report are gone.
Spill timeline update:
ExxonMobil said Friday that while a pumping station and valves were shut down and closed off within 16 minutes of the first alert of a drop in pressure on March 29th, gravity caused oil to keep flowing for more than 12 hours.