The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), upon investigating an Arkansas oil spill, found that energy company ExxonMobil knew of critical information that could have prevented the accident.
The PHMSA determined that ExxonMobil ignored the impending failure of the Pegasus pipeline, didn’t act upon much needed repairs for the pipeline, and divulged only portions of data that pointed to the chance of a spill. Because of ExxonMobil’s inaction and lackadaisical concern that resulted in 210,000 gallon oil spill, the company was fined $2.66 million.
In July of 2011, the PHMSA also motioned to fine Exxon in connection to an accident that resulted in over 1,500 barrels of oil spilling into the Yellowstone River. This spill was from the Silvertip pipeline.
The Pegasus line, which flows 95,000 barrels a day, was constructed of shoddily-made piping that had weak seams. The investigation report noted that the company “had more than adequate information for the pipe to be considered susceptible to seam failure.” However, ExxonMobil ignored this fact and neglected to include it the pipe’s risk assessment, which is required by federal law.
Pipeline safety consultant Richard Kuprewicz said “Not acknowledging manufacturing seam threats – for a company as large as Exxon, that’s just embarrassing.”
When the pipeline burst in Mayflower, Ark., back in March, oil flooded residential areas and 22 homes were immediately evacuated. Shortly after the burst, ExxonMobil had 15 vacuum trucks and 33 storage tanks to clean up the spill.
“The really disconcerting thing about the violations listed is how they fly in the face of what the industry keeps saying about their efforts to make pipelines safer,” said Pipeline Safety Trust executive director Carl Weimer. “Exxon did not recognize the risk or prioritize their testing program correctly to protect people or the environment.”