Exxon Mobil seeks to bar files on abandoned pipeline project in Arkansas oil spill case

IndustriesAssociated Press

Exxon Mobil said it shouldn't have to release any further information on a proposed but abandoned pipeline intended to run alongside the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured in 2013 in central Arkansas.

The company is facing a class-action lawsuit by landowners after the pipeline spilled more than 200,000 gallons of oil in a Mayflower subdivision.

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Lawyers for the oil giant argued in a Monday court brief that information pertaining to the Texas Access Pipeline project isn't relevant to the case. The roughly $3 billion project fell through after not getting enough shipping commitments from oil producers, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1vtFELY ) reported.

"That the defendants once considered building a new pipeline next to the Pegasus reveals nothing about the current condition of the Pegasus," the company's attorneys wrote.

The plaintiffs' attorney said he believes Exxon Mobil doesn't want to release it because it doesn't want to disclose information about replacing the Pegasus pipeline built in the late 1940s. Attorney Marcus Bozeman added that "it's ridiculous to suggest that the Texas Access Pipeline was going to go side by side the Pegasus pipeline carrying the same oil from the same area to the same area."

Exxon Mobil has blamed the rupture of the Pegasus pipeline on manufacturing defects, specifically seam cracks that worsened over the years. A federal regulatory agency has proposed fining the company more than $2.6 million for nine "probable" safety violations as a result of the accident, which the company has appealed.

The 850-mile-long Pegasus line runs from Texas to Illinois and was closed shortly after the oil spill. A 212-mile segment of the pipeline in Texas has been restarted.

In August, a U.S. district judge granted class-action status in the lawsuit, allowing Arnez and Charletha Harper, of Mayflower, to represent people who currently own property that's subject to an easement for and physically crossed by the Pegasus pipeline. They are seeking the cancellation of those easements and removal or replacement of the pipeline.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com