LITTLE ROCK — ExxonMobil should purchase every home in a Mayflower subdivision affected by a pipeline rupture in late March, as well as the homes of residents of a cove near Lake Conway, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Tuesday.
A rupture of ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the Northwoods subdivision, forcing the evacuation of 22 homes. None of the residents has returned.
"Mayflower is a long way from being made whole again," McDaniel said during a news conference at which he announced creation of the "Mayflower Consumer Response Team," a special task force within his office to address questions and concerns about the oil spill.
"I have assigned members of that team to reach out to affected residents in the Northwoods subdivision, in the cove and elsewhere," he said. "We are conducting interviews and learning about a variety of issues."
The task force members will be available to answer questions from the Mayflower residents and can be reached by phone or email, he said.
McDaniel said he has read the property purchase and price protection program document that the oil company has sent to residents of the area. The document is 38 pages long, with charts and graphs included, he said.
"I and my team … continue to review it, but let’s be clear, I believe that Exxon should purchase all of the affected properties in that area, including those in the subdivision and those in the cove area for the appraisal price prior to the spill," the attorney general said. "I do not believe that this plan accomplishes that goal."
Karen Tyrone, vice president of operations with ExxonMobil, said last month that all 62 homeowners in the subdivision have each been paid $10,000 for any inconvenience caused by the oil spill, and have been told that if they decide to sell their homes and find the value is less than before the oil spill, ExxonMobil would either make up the difference or purchase the home.
Aaron Stryk, communications and media adviser for ExxonMobil, said in an e-mail Tuesday that the Property Purchase and Proce Protection Program "protects property values for families who want to stay in their homes and helps facilitate the sale of property at a guaranteed price for those who choose to move in the next three years."
"It also provides assistance to current renters and landlords in the neighborhood and extends protections to new owners who buy homes in Northwoods over the next three years," Stryk said.
The cleanup of the spill continues and a storm drain that runs through the subdivision is being replaced.
McDaniel also said a heavy oil smell still permeates some areas of the subdivision and that many of the residents have told his office they don’t want to move back because they still experience headaches and are concerned about long-term health effects.
While air quality tests from the state Department of Environmental Quality show air emissions to be below levels likely to cause health effects for the general population, McDaniel said tests are still picking small amounts of some dangerous chemicals, including benzine, a carcinogen.
The Mayflower Consumer Response Team can be reached at 1-800-482-8982.