30 Toxic Chemicals Found at Exxon Pipeline Spill Site in Arkansas

Thursday, May 02, 2013
Crews cleaning up oil from Exxon spill in Mayflower, Arkansas (Photo: Jeannie Nuss, AP)

When half a million gallons of tar sands oil spilled into an Arkansas community in March, it released 30 toxic chemicals into the air that may impact human health.


“Each of the thirty hydrocarbons measured in the Mayflower release is a toxic chemical on its own and may pose a threat to human health depending on various exposure and individual factors,” Dr. Neil Carman said in a prepared statement about a local study performed in the wake of the accident. Carman is with the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club and is a former industrial plant investigator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


The study by the Faulkner County Concerned Citizens Advisory Group and Global Community Monitor revealed that at least 30 hazardous chemicals were detected in the air following the 500,000 gallons of oil that spilled from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline.


The chemicals included include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, n-hexane and xylenes. Exposure to ethylbenzene and benzene can cause cancer and birth defects, while the inhalation of n-hexane can damage the nervous system and produce numbness, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headaches and fatigue.


Community activist April Lane, who has collected health reports from residents since the March 29 accident, said some locals are still feeling symptoms from the chemical exposure. These involve gastrointestinal problems, headaches, respiratory problems, skin irritation and extreme fatigue.


Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel hired the crisis management firm Witt O'Brien’s to perform an analysis of the cleanup. However, the company’s mission at Mayflower is more about cover-up than cleanup, claims DeSmogBlog.com, a whistleblowing outfit devoted to exposing “global warming misinformation campaigns.”


“O'Brien’s has had its hands in the botched clean-up efforts of almost every high-profile oil spill disaster in recent U.S. history,” wrote Steven Horn on DeBlogSmog’s website, “including the Exxon Valdez spill, the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, the Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River, and Hurricane Sandy.”


Horn also noted that Witt O’Briens’ clients include corporate oil and gas titans, and many of its own employees hail from that industry.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Study Reveals 30 Toxic Chemicals at High Levels at Exxon Arkansas Tar Sands Pipeline Spill Site (by Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog.com)

Independent Air Test at Mayflower Oil Spill Reveal 30 Toxic Chemicals at High Levels (Global Community Monitor)

One Month After Exxon’s Arkansas Oil Spill, Still No Answers to Basic Questions (by Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News)

Arkansas Hires Notorious Private Contractor To Clean Up Mayflower Tar Sands Spill, Same Firm Also Contracted For KXL (by Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog.com)

Why Was Bill Clinton Silent about the Oil Pipeline Spill in His Home State? (by Erica Payne, AllGov)

Exxon Found Guilty (again) in Longest State Trial in New Hampshire History (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

First Lawsuit over Exxon Arkansas Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Spill (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)   


Steve Hopkins 3 years ago
What the moribund U.S. environmental movement needs is an angrier soundtrack to replace the sort of hippy dippy folk noodling that accompanies most of their punchless PR. Here’s a new American anthem guaranteed to stir the soul of any red-blooded environmentalist, as well as lure a few emotionally sensitive people over from the dark side. Feel free to use it. Scream your anger! http://biffthuringer.bandcamp.com/track/to-america

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