Exxon Oil Spill: What’s Really Going On

by May 14, 2013
filed under Activism
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The latest Exxon oil spill dumped 84 000 gallons of crude oil into Mayflower, Arkansas on March 29, 2013. The gallons of oil spilled into a cove off Lake Conway, resulting in at least 20 homes being evacuated. Exxon insists no oil leaked into Lake Conway but there are still hazardous fumes throughout the lake and Mayflower. Exxon is offering financial help to those who were affected by the oil spill as compensation.  The article Exxon Starts Restoration Work After Arkansas Oil Spill states that Exxon immediately began “remediation and restoration activities” after the oil spill. The reason for their quick response was that the energy industry wanted the story to go away fast.


The pipeline that ruptured is capable of transporting 90,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil from Texas to Illinois. It developed a 22-foot gash, resulting in a spillage of 5000 barrels into the subdivision of Mayflower, affecting the citizens tremendously. It ruined their homes, left noxious fumes behind and forced them to evacuate to hotels, causing them to feel an overwhelming amount of anxiety regarding their houses being condemned. Even with the compensation provided to the Mayflower residents, they still wondered “how clean is clean for Exxon” and whether their old lifestyle would ever be clean enough to live in again. (Arkansas Oil Spill Raises Scrutiny of Pipeline Network).

One of the most prominent issues with the 60 year old pipeline, is the environmental impact on the nearby marshlands and animals. Despite crews trying to contain the spill with special pads and vaccum pipes, it still fouled 110 km of the Yellow Stone River’s bank, killing fish and wildlife alike. Exxon claims most freestanding oil has been recovered but we all know that cleaning up oil is never easy and it disrupts animals and their habitats during the process (Arkansas Oil Spill Raises Scrutiny of Pipeline Network). For instance, on April 8 23, ducks, a river rat, and 5 turtles died and likely many more animals since. Exxon also states to have re-released 80 animals previously soiled back into the wild but how can they truly thrive if their habitats are still covered in oil?

According to Exxon Mobil Works to Contain Canadian Crude Oil Spill, the oil spill came at a bad time when Alberta was propositioning Washington about the Key-stone XL Pipe line. Alberta tried to get Washington to gain President Obama’s approval so he would give them $7 billion towards the project. Many people commented that Obama should reject Keystone XL because of the risks associated with transporting oil. In pipelines, high temperatures and high pressure mean that the pipeline needs to be cleaned out frequently and monitored to see how the “bitumen” is diluted. The National Wild Life association calls for stronger standards for transporting tar-sand oil because clean up of potential spills is bad for tax payers and the environment. There is a need for infrastructure to be upgraded so that oil spills are less likely to occur, especially in the cases where pipelines are old, such as with Exxon oil spill pipeline. Not to mention the high cost of shipping amounts of terry across Canada and the USA is also a concern.

In the last year, Arkansas Oil Spill Raises Scrutiny of Pipeline Network, affirms that there were 364 spills from pipelines in the USA this year and that there are currently 119 000 miles of pipelines that carry crude oil. Clearly, both the USA and Canada need to look at safety and environmental issues regarding using pipelines to carry oil across a country. If we do not ensure that pipelines are intact, more oil spills such as Exxon will occur and people, the environment and our pocket books will be affected greatly.

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