NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Arkansas's Attorney General have filed a joint complaint against ExxonMobil for the Mayflower oil spill in March.
The complaint alleges six causes of action against the oil giant and seeks civil penalties under the federal Clean Water Act.
Christopher Thyer and Dustin McDaniel announced the lawsuit in a morning news conference at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) headquarters in North Little Rock.
The lawsuit asks for ExxonMobil to pay for removal costs and damages related to the spill.
"Exxon has failed to properly remove waste caused by oil spill," McDaniel said, in revealing that the ADEQ has learned ExxonMobil is illegally storing contaminants near Mayflower.
The suit seeks penalties of $1,100-$4,300 per barrel discharged and $45,000/day per violation.
The new lawsuit has no impact on private landowners ability to take legal action against ExxonMobil.
More details below in the official news release:
LITTLE ROCK - The state of Arkansas and the U.S. government today filed a joint lawsuit against ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. and Mobil Pipeline Co. for violations of state and federal pollution laws related to the March 29 pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The state seeks civil penalties for violations of the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act and the state Hazardous Waste Management Act.
In addition, the state asked the court to issue a declaratory judgment against the defendants for payment of removal costs and damages under authority granted to the state in the federal Oil Pollution Act.
The U.S. government seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief under the federal Clean Water Act.
"This spill disrupted lives and damaged our environment," McDaniel said. "It sullied our previously pristine water and our clean air. As the party responsible for this incident, Exxon is also responsible for the penalties imposed by the state for the damage to our environment and the company should foot the bill for the state's clean-up costs."
The rupture of the Pegasus Pipeline occurred in Mayflower's Northwoods subdivision. The rupture caused a spill of Canadian heavy crude oil that flowed through the neighborhood and then into nearby waterways, including a creek, wetlands and Lake Conway.
Arkansas law provides for civil penalties of $10,000 per violation per day for violations of the Water and Air Pollution Control Act.
During cleanup, Exxon has stored waste including petroleum-contaminated soil, oil and water mixtures and debris at a site on Highway 36 in Conway without a permit from ADEQ. Although ADEQ put the company on notice on May 1 to remove the hazardous waste from the site, waste still remains there. State law provides for civil penalties of $25,000 per violation per day for violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Act.
McDaniel praised the partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice on the litigation.
"I am glad for the opportunity to work collaboratively with U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer and the Department of Justice for the benefit of the people of Arkansas," McDaniel said. "Attorneys in my office and DOJ attorneys have dedicated themselves to this lawsuit and I appreciate their efforts."
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