Technicality relieves Exxon from paying into federal oil spill fund

by Cassady Craighill

April 3, 2013

Originally reported by Think Progress.

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipelinespill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead duckscovered in oil.

The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

Im an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are, Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters.We dont like to see that. No one does.

Exxon hasconfirmedthat the pipeline was carrying low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta. This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.

A 1980 law ensures that diluted bitumen isnot classified as oil, and companies transporting it in pipelines do not have to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Other conventional crude producers pay 8 cents a barrel to ensure the fund has resources to help clean up some of the 54,000 barrels of pipeline oil that spilled 364 times last year.

As Oil Change International said in a statement today:

The great irony of this tragic spill in Arkansas is that the transport of tar sands oil through pipelines in the US is exempt from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Exxon, like all companies shipping toxic tar sands, doesnt have to pay into the fund that will cover most of the clean up costs for the pipelines inevitable spills.

Whatever you call it, as Judge Dodson says, Crude oil is crude oil. None of it is real good to touch.

The smell of the spilled oil (similar to asphalt) has reached residents five miles out in the country, and will likely keep residents of 22 nearby homes evacuated for several days.

Surreal video:

The Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan happened in 2010 and parents arestill concernedabout the long-term health effects of having such toxic substances seep into areas where children play.

See more photos of the oil spill in Arkansas here.

Take action and sayNo to KeystoneandNo to Arctic drilling.

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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