Major news outlets in Arkansas are reporting on a $5 million Mayflower Oil Spill settlement reached between Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company (EMPCO) and the state and federal governments over environmental and other damages caused by the March 2013 rupture of the Pegasus Pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas. Arkansas oil spill attorneys note, however, that the settlement does not apply to lawsuits filed on behalf of residents directly affected by the rupture. Several of those cases have been set for trial in October 2015, with pretrial preparation ongoing.
Reports: Oil Spill Settlement a “Critical Victory,” Will Address Environmental Concerns
The settlement of the government’s case is expected to benefit the state by forcing Exxon to take actions to prevent similar disasters in the future and by providing funding that can be used to help the state more effectively respond to future environmental emergencies.
According to the Arkansas Times:
A consent decree will be filed this morning in federal court in which ExxonMobil agrees to pay civil penalties, fund an environmental project and take other corrective steps in response to alleged violations of environmental laws in the 2013 rupture of the Pegasus pipeline that produced a damaging spill in Mayflower.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge calls the settlement a “critical victory for the state. Ms. Rutledge was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette as saying:
“This consent decree is a critical victory for the State and the Mayflower community,” Rutledge said in a statement. “ExxonMobil was responsible for the damage to the environment and for disrupting lives of Arkansans. Today, ExxonMobil is being held accountable for the estimated 134,000 gallons of oil that flowed out of the ruptured pipeline.”
Arkansas Business, via the Associated Press, noted that:
As part of a consent decree set to be filed in a Little Rock federal court Wednesday, the companies would pay about $3.2 million in federal civil penalties in addition to addressing pipeline safety issues and oil-response capacity. They would pay $1 million in state civil penalties, $600,000 for a project to improve water quality at Lake Conway and $280,000 for the state’s legal costs.
Attorneys: Settlement Does Not Compensate Residents
Lawyers representing residents impacted by the spill note in an April 22, 2015 press release that the Mayflower oil spill settlement “in no way compensates the hundreds of residents seriously and permanently impacted by the [spill].” They note that the terms of settlement “clearly establishes [Exxon’s] liability for the rupture,” but that Exxon has “yet to take responsibility for the harm caused to the residents of Mayflower, and the damages it must pay.”
Supporting the claims of residents’ attorneys is the fact that, despite its agreement to pay $5 million to the state and federal government and to take other measures to prevent other disasters in the future, Exxon does not admit any liability for the Mayflower Oil Spill. Attorneys also note that Exxon is appealing a proposed $2.6 million fine from the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration “for safety, operation, inspection and maintenance violations associated with the Mayflower pipeline rupture.”
Exxon’s Settlements Part of a Pattern; Cost the Company a Fraction of its Revenue
According to the attorneys, “the Mayflower settlement is one in a recent pattern involving ExxonMobil.” They cite as examples the following:
- A 2012 rupture of the North Line pipeline in Pointe Coupee Parrish, Louisiana spilled more than 80,000 gallons of oil, for which Exxon settled the government claims for $1.4 million.
- A July 2011 rupture of the Silvertip pipeline that caused 42,000 gallons of oil to spill into the Yellowstone River, for which Exxon paid the State of Montana nearly $2.4 million.
The combined settlement amounts paid by or sought from Exxon to state and federal governments for Mayflower and other similar oil spills, as reported by the attorneys, is just 1/50,000th (.002%) of the oil giant’s $438 billion in revenue reported for 2013. (Source: Bloomberg). Moreover, it’s $5 million Mayflower settlement amounts to just over 15% of the $33 million that Exxon paid to its CEO in 2014. (Source: Nasdaq).
Contact Us for More Information
If you would like more information on the Mayflower Oil Spill Settlement, or if you are a Mayflower resident with questions about your legal rights, contact the Johnson & Vines Law Firm at (501) 777-7777, by email at [email protected], or by filling out our online contact form.