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Feds send corrective order to Exxon after oil leak

JEANNIE NUSS • Apr 2, 2013 at 8:46 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Federal pipeline safety officials on Tuesday issued a corrective action order to ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. after one of its pipelines ruptured last week in central Arkansas.

The order from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration comes after ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline ruptured Friday in the small city of Mayflower, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock.

The order prevents ExxonMobil from restarting operations on the failed segment of the pipeline until the agency is satisfied with repairs and is confident that all immediate safety concerns have been addressed.

Investigators are still working to figure out what caused the pipeline to rupture, but the corrective action says ExxonMobil reversed the system flow of the pipeline in 2006.

"A change in direction of flow can affect the hydraulic and stress demands on the pipeline," the order, dated Tuesday, says.

About 3,500 to 5,000 barrels of crude oil spilled after the pipeline ruptured, according to Exxon estimates cited in the corrective order.

The order from the federal agency comes the same day that Arkansas' attorney general asked ExxonMobil to preserve records pending a state investigation into the oil spill.

"There are many questions and concerns remaining as to the long-term impacts, environmental or otherwise, from this spill," Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wrote to ExxonMobil executives Tuesday while launching a probe into the leak's cause and impact.

The company said it will cooperate with McDaniel's office. An ExxonMobil spokesman said Tuesday evening that the company is reviewing the corrective action order, but declined to comment further.


Follow Jeannie Nuss at http://twitter.com/jeannienuss

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