The ExxonMobil oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas is getting worse: more than a week after Canadian tar sands erupted from a pipeline, residents of the small town say area wetlands are becoming polluted with the crude.
Over 20 homes in Mayflower were evacuated shortly after the a leak in Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline on March 29, but the company’s attempt at correcting the disaster has apparently only made things worse. Activists with the group Tar Sands Blockade went to rural Arizona over the weekend to document the oil spill, and discovered that power washers used by Exxon to clean up the town has moved the crude into nearby wetlands.
“That’s right,” reads a post published on the group’s websiteover the weekend, “in order to get the tar sands out of the neighborhood where it spilled and out of sight and into one place for cleanup, Exxon power-washed the excess into a wetland area which had already been affected by the spill.”
Exxon agents and law enforcement officers have kept the affected area largely on lock-down since the spill was spotted a week and a half ago, and a no-fly zone in the vicinity has made monitoring the damages near impossible for environmentalists. Tar Sands Blockade activists managed to make their way through the woods shortly before sundown over the weekend, though, and were able to get an up-close look at how severe the spreading actually is.
“It was just before sunset, and most of the workers had gone home. We had tried to access this area before but always been kept out by workers and police,” the group says. Once they made it to the wetlands, there they discovered that oil power-washed through the city’s storm drains have emptied out into an area that would normally be inhabited by a number of wildlife species.
Those wetlands, the activists write, “now serves as a storage area for diluted bitumen spilled by Exxon’s negligence.”
During their on-the-ground investigation in the swamp, the activists also located what is believed to be a section of the Pegasus pipeline that has been outfitted with a clamp. “There are multiple pipelines in the area and we can’t absolutely verify that this is Pegasus, but we compared it to photos of other oil pipelines built in the 1940s and they are similar,” they write.