A Slick Spill

A ruptured oil pipeline in Arkansas forces the evacuation of 22 homes

April 01, 2013

Exxon Mobil crew members use vacuums to help recover the spilled oil.

Crews are racing to clean up an oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. On Friday, March 29, a pipeline carrying heavy crude oil ruptured, releasing more than 10,000 barrels of the slick liquid. The dangerous leak forced the evacuation of 22 local homes. "We could see oil running down the road like a river," Joe Bradley, a Mayflower resident, told local news station KTHV.

Oil streams down the center of a residential road in Mayflower, Arkansas.

Oil streams down the center of a residential road in Mayflower, Arkansas.

Hooked on Oil

The United States uses more oil than any other nation. Most is pumped into our cars in the form of gasoline. While billions of dollars worth of oil is still imported from other countries each year, more and more oil is now being produced here in the U.S.

The ruptured pipeline, called the Pegasus pipeline, carries oil from Illinois to Texas, where it is processed and refined. Exxon Mobil, a large American oil and gas corporation, owns the Pegasus pipeline, which is approximately 20 inches in diameter and carries 95,000 barrels of crude oil every day. About 4,500 barrels of oil and water have been recovered so far.

Fossil Feuds

Environmentalists are pointing to the incident as an example of the type of problem that could result from the creation of another, larger pipeline. The Keystone pipeline is a proposed pipeline that would be 1,179 miles long and 36 inches in diameter, stretching from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska. Those in favor of the proposed project say it would bring down the cost of fuel for Americans.

Opponents of the project argue that it would cause environmental damage. Dan Gatti of the advocacy group Environment America says the spill is an example of what would happen if the Keystone pipeline is built. "These images of oil-coated disasters need to become reminders of a bygone era, not a sign of things to come," Gatti said in a statement Sunday.

Exxon said the Pegasus pipeline had been shut down as crews tried to prevent oil from reaching a nearby lake. The cause of the spill is being investigated.

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