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LITTLE ROCK - Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Wednesday visited the Mayflower neighborhood where Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Pegasus pipeline ruptured, causing a major oil spill and forcing the evacuation of area residents.

McDaniel has launched an investigation into the cause and impact of the spill. Today, in the Attorney General's weekly Consumer Alert, McDaniel wanted to update Arkansans about what the Attorney General's Office knows about the spill and inform consumers about how they can determine whether pipelines are located on or near their property.

"During my visit to Mayflower today, it became clear to me that the residents of the area have a long and difficult road back to normalcy," McDaniel said. "Our office will do everything it can to help affected Arkansans, and we will thoroughly investigate this incident. I appreciate the efforts of the hundreds of workers who have donned hazmat suits and are actively attempting to clean up the site, and the local, state and federal officials who are in Mayflower to assist."

McDaniel launched his investigation Tuesday, requesting that Exxon preserve documents and other records related to the spill.

The Pegasus pipeline was constructed in the 1940s and stretches from Patoka, Ill., to Nederland, Texas. Exxon says the 20-inch subterranean pipeline has a capacity of about 95,000 barrels per day.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has categorized the oil spill as a "major spill." Exxon officials estimate several thousand barrels of Wabasca Heavy crude was released. The oil flowed into a ditch adjacent to the Union Pacific railroad line in Mayflower, and eventually into a tributary of Lake Conway. Efforts have been successful thus far in keeping the oil out of the lake, Exxon says.

Residents from 21 homes in the North Woods subdivision have been displaced from their homes because of air quality concerns. The EPA continues to monitor air quality. In addition, McDaniel said Wednesday that his office and the Arkansas Department of Health had received reports that several students at an elementary school in the affected area had gone home sick because of nausea.

Fifteen vacuum trucks and 33 storage tanks are on site, and Exxon reports having removed approximately 12,000 barrels of water and oil during the first few days of cleanup. Crews are starting the removal of contaminated soil and vegetation from residential areas.

Many residents of the affected neighborhood said they were unaware that the pipeline was located in the area.

Arkansans who want to determine whether a pipeline is located nearby may visit the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's website at www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov. The administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has an online pipeline mapping system.

The website allows consumers to view maps of transmission pipelines, plants and breakout tanks by county. The administration also provides summaries of enforcement activities nationwide and enforcement information for specific operators.

Following the Mayflower incident, McDaniel said his office is evaluating all appropriate measures to represent the state and its agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

For more information about consumer issues, visit the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Consumer Protection Hotline, (800) 482-8982.


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