I had thought the oil spill side of the pipeline opposition overblown, but the Arkansas spill appears quite serious, and the remediation effort is peculiar:
That afternoon, we went to the Faulkner County Library for a meeting of roughly 100 affected residents and concerned community members. We offered ourselves as a resource and source of information, based on our experience fighting the Keystone XL pipeline and working against TransCanada. People aired their grievances and started to form working groups to start addressing various concerns – such as the fact that the Pegasus pipeline still runs through the Lake Maumelle watershed which supplies water to 400,000 people in Little Rock.
Then, we went to the wetland where Exxon has allegedly been dumping the diluted bitumen. That’s right: in order to get the tar sands out of the neighborhood where it spilled and out of sight and into one place for cleanup Exxon power-washed the excess into a wetland area which had already been affected by the spill. We went there to find out. It was just before sunset, and most of the workers had gone home. We had tried to access this area before but always been kept out by workers and police. (coordinates: +34° 57′ 42.65″, -92° 24′ 52.64″, just a couple hundred feet from the Bell Slough State Wildlife Management Area)
It also appears that the oil company is doing whatever it can to limit press coverage of the event:
Reporters covering the oil spill from ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, are reporting that they’ve been blocked from the site and threatened with arrest.
On Friday morning, Inside Climate News reported that an Exxon spokesperson told reporter Lisa Song that she could be “arrested for criminal trespass” when she went to the command center to try to find representatives from the EPA and the Department of Transportation. On Friday afternoon, I spoke to the news director from the local NPR affiliate who said he, too, had been threatened with arrest while trying to cover the spill.
Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff’s office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen (a reporter for a local NPR radio station) told Mother Jones on Friday:
It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff’s deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don’t want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as “Exxon Media”…Some reporters were like, “Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?” The sheriff’s deputies started saying, “You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested.”