Exxon Controls Access to EPA at Spill Site

Pulitzer prize-winning InsideClimate reporter Lisa Song, trying to contact onsite representatives of EPA, entered the command center for the cleanup operation in Mayflower, Ark., but was told to leave by Exxon. “You’ve been asked by security to leave. If you don’t you’ll be arrested for criminal trespass.”

InsideClimate News reporter Lisa Song was threatened with arrest on Wednesday after she entered the command center for the cleanup operation in Mayflower, Ark., where a major oil pipeline spill occurred on Friday.

Song had tried to enter the command compound on Tuesday, but was turned away by a security guard. On Wednesday, however, a different guard was on duty and he waved her through the gate. Inside, a second person directed her to the warehouse that houses the command center.

Inside the building, Song went to a table with a sign that said “public affairs,” where she was given the name and contact information for Austin Vela, the EPA spokesman at the site. Before she could get the name of a DOT representative, however, Exxon spokeswoman Kim Jordan spotted Song and told her to leave. A second person arrived and said, “You’ve been asked by security to leave. If you don’t you’ll be arrested for criminal trespass.”

Timothy Smith, professor emeritus of journalism at Kent State University and founder of the Media Law Center for Ethics and Access, said that if the command center was on Exxon property and Song had refused to leave, the company could, indeed, have asked local law enforcement officials to arrest her.

But Smith said he couldn’t understand why the “DOT and EPA should be hunkered down behind walls thrown up by a private company.”

More at the link. InsideClimate News’ excellent coverage of the Arkansas spill is collected here.

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