A class action lawsuit was filed on June 27 on behalf of those owning property abutting Lake Conway in Arkansas, which allegedly was physically contaminated and polluted by the March 29 ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline fracture.
Lake Conway, approximately 6,700 acres, is the largest man-made lake in the United States, according to the complaint. It is used for recreational activities, including fishing and boating, and for residential living. On March 29, 2013, the worst tar sands spill in Arkansas history occurred when the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline ruptured, spilling oil and carcinogenic and toxic chemicals, including but not limited to, benzene, toluene and other highly dangerous chemicals. The pipeline rupture is also alleged to have released hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous and toxic gas, which contaminated and polluted the air.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs, whose property borders Lake Conway, have experienced property damage, as well as “interference, aggravation, annoyance, inconvenience and intrusion from the tar sands and toxic chemical contaminants and pollution… after the March 29, 2013 Pegasus Pipeline fracture and rupture.”
The Pegasus Pipeline, built in the 1940s, originally pumped liquid oil from Texas to the northern United States, the complaint states. About 60 years later, the pipeline was shut down for several years. The defendants eventually decided to start using the pipeline again, only they reversed the flow direction. The reopened pipeline began pumping tar sands from Western Canada, not the liquid oil it was originally built to pump, and the company increased the Pegasus pipeline’s capacity by 50 percent, from 66,000 barrels per day to 99,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands. But the company did not upgrade or replace the pipeline, although, the complaint says, ExxonMobil knew that the pipeline was experiencing seam problems. About four years later, the fracture in Mayflower, Arkansas, occurred.
The lawsuit was filed on June 27 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division (Case No. 4:13-cv-00199-BSM) by Parker Waichman LLP and co-counsels.