Portland, Maine—Following the rupture of ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline on Friday afternoon, which spilled at least 84,000 gallons of tar sands oil and forced 22 families to evacuate their homes in the small town of Mayflower, Arkansas, Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor released the following response:
“This accident must be a nightmare for the families suddenly having to evacuate their homes, but it’s also a glimpse into the very real consequences we could face in Maine if the Portland-Montreal pipeline is allowed to carry the same dirty tar sands oil through our state.
“Just like the project contemplated for Maine, this pipeline is very old and was re-purposed to carry Canadian tar sands oil. Fortunately, so far media reports indicate that first responders have been able to prevent the spill from entering nearby Lake Conway, a popular recreation area. It’s hard to imagine we’d be so lucky if a spill happened here since our pipeline goes through the Lakes Region, where water is everywhere.
“We need to learn from this disaster and from the massive tar sands spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River because these images of oil-coated disasters should be reminders of a bygone era, not a sign of things to come.
“For the sake of public safety, our health, and our environment, we call on President Obama and the State Department to require a thorough environmental review of any project that would carry tar sands oil next to Sebago Lake and to Casco Bay.”
* The Arkansas spill was the second incident in just one week where Canadian tar sands oil spilled in the United States. Last Wednesday, a train carrying Canadian crude derailed in Minnesota, spilling 15,000 gallons of the heavy oil.
* The U.S. Department of Transportation last week fined Exxon $1.7 million for pipeline safety violations relating to Exxon’s spill of 1,500 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River in July 2011.
* Exxon is the majority corporate owner of the Portland-Montreal pipeline.