For residents in Mayflower, Arkansas, any plans of hosting Easter egg hunts on their lawns Sunday were cut abruptly by crude oil.
On Friday an ExxonMobil pipeline burst in the small city of Mayflower, about 20 miles northwest of Little Rock, sending 10,000 barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil flowing through the neighborhood, coating lawns and roads.
The cause of the breach in Exxon's Pegasus pipeline—which originates in Illinois and carries crude oil to the Texas Gulf Coast—is still being investigated. In a statement on the company's website, Exxon Mobil side-stepped health risk concerns, saying, "The air quality does not likely present a human health risk, with the exception of the high pooling areas, where cleanup crews are working with safety equipment."
The spill caused 22 homes to be evacuated, with homeowners being told they might not be able to return for at least a week. Mayflower Chief of Police Bob Satkowski said the residents had to leave their homes because of "heath risks from the crude oil fumes and possible fires," according to NBC.
KARK, the NBC affiliate in Little Rock, said that part of the pipeline runs just a few feet away from Lake Maumelle, which "provides drinking water to nearly 400,000 residents in central Arkansas." CBS News reported that authorities are monitoring air quality, and precautions are being taken to keep the spill away from another nearby water source—Lake Conway.
While ExxonMobil said it retrieved 12,000 barrels of oil and water as of Sunday, there's no sense of how much of that was oil.
Watch video footage of oil bubbling through the neighborhood here:
Paige Brettingen is a journalist in Los Angeles where she is pursuing her masters at USC. When she's not on the lookout for the next story, her interests include running, talking about her dog too much and attempting to be a better cook. Follow her @newsbypaige.
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