December 5, 2013

Lawsuits Result from Ruptured Pipeline

Read here about lawsuits against ExxonMobil over a pipeline rupture in Arkansas.


June 24, 2013

Ash Grove Cement agrees to pay $2.5 million fine

Source:, June 20, 2013
By: Kevin Collison

Ash Grove Cement has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine and upgrade pollution controls at its plants in eight states, which should reduce its harmful atmospheric emissions by more than 17,000 tons a year, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

In a consent agreement announced this week, the Overland Park company said it will spend about $30 million in additional pollution controls at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants, including facilities in Chanute, Kan., about 120 miles southwest of Kansas City, and Louisville, Neb., near Omaha.

In addition, the company has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its plants, close two older kilns at its Texas plant and spend $750,000 replacing old diesel truck engines at its plants in Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, according to the Justice Department.

“This significant settlement will achieve substantial reductions in air pollution from Ash Grove’s Portland cement manufacturing facilities and benefit the health of communities across the nation,” acting assistant attorney general Robert G. Dreher said in a statement.

Ash Grove officials said that while they believe their facilities comply with Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency requirements, they reached the settlement to avoid continuing costly litigation with the federal government.

“The agreement with the EPA will allow Ash Grove to move forward and provide an environmentally sustainable product that is the foundation of our economy,” chairman and chief executive Charles T. Sunderland said in a statement.

The agreement is expected to take effect next month. The federal government has been joined in the settlement by Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington.

Federal officials say the pollution control improvements mandated by the agreement will remove thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that have been emitted by the Ash Grove plants. It also is expected to reduce the amount of particulate matter coming from the facilities.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.


June 20, 2013

Whirlpool sued over groundwater pollution near Fort Smith plant

Source: Arkansas Times, May 23, 2013
By: Max Brantley

Fort Smith residents have filed a lawsuit over chemical contamination of the groundwater in the neighborhood of Whirlpool’s now-closed refrigerator factory in Fort Smith.

Here’s some good background from The City Wire, a Northwest Arkansas digital news site. It recently reported:

Documents reviewed by The City Wire show Fort Smith city officials knew about Whirlpool’s plan to request a groundwater well ban as early as June of last year and that Whirlpool may not have been forthcoming with the city or the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality about its request.

Whirlpool finally disclosed the situation because it wanted the ordinance, since pulled down, as an aid to selling the site.

Details on the lawsuit follow:


Fort Smith, AR (May 23, 2013) — Residents and landowners of the neighborhood north of the former Whirlpool facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas filed suit today in Sebastian County Circuit Court. The two suits seek damages from Whirlpool for the harm caused by a trichloroethylene (TCE) plume emanating from the facility.

The suits allege that Whirlpool used TCE at the facility beginning in 1967 to clean appliances prior to painting. Documents submitted to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality by Whirlpool’s environmental consultant show the TCE plume extends to the subsurface below dozens of properties. The suits further allege that Whirlpool discovered TCE below its facility in the 1980s, but that property owners did not learn of the TCE plume until January of 2013, when Whirlpool proposed a city ordinance to ban drinking water wells in the neighborhood.

TCE is a volatile organic compound. Industrial users have historically used it as a solvent. It is a known carcinogen that can cause adverse impacts to human health and the environment. TCE can break down into harmful daughter products, such as vinyl chloride, after it is released to the environment.

Counsel for the plaintiffs include Sam Ledbetter and Ross Noland of McMath Woods P.A. in Little Rock, and Rick Woods of Taylor Law Partners, LLP in Fayetteville. McMath Woods P.A. represents clients in environmental and personal injury cases. Taylor Law Partners is a general litigation firm comprised of experienced trial attorneys who represent clients at both the trial and appellate levels.…

June 14, 2013

Mineral Oil Still Being Removed From Fort Smith Creek

Source:, June 11, 2013
By: Hicham Raache

CORRECTION: Mineral oil from an OG&E transformer that fell June 1 leaked into Mill Creek, not Massard Creek in Fort Smith, Jeff Turner, director of Sebastian County Emergency Management, confirmed Tuesday, June 11. Earlier reports misidentified the creek.

The effort to clean up the mineral oil that spilled into Massard Creek when an OG&E transformer fell over a week ago is still underway.

“Our cleanup efforts are continuing this week and the recovery of the oil is going well,” OG&E spokesman Rob Ratley said Monday. “We are still utilizing two environmental contracting companies to help us with this effort as well as working with the various regulating agencies.”

When a transformer fell June 1 at a 40-acre substation at Rutgers Road on the southwest part of Fort Smith off U.S. 271, a large amount of cooling oil spilled out of the transformer, onto the substation and into the creek at the intersection of Rutgers and Texas roads.

“We’ve been able to recover a majority of the oil released and we will continue monitoring and collecting until everything is clear,” Ratley said. “There will be a maintenance phase where we will leave absorbent booms in affected areas of the stream to catch any remaining oil.”…

June 10, 2013

Hog farm PR battle rages

Source:, June 6, 2013
By: Frank Wallis

Hog farm opponents to meet with ADEQ

Arkansas’ chief enforcer of environmental law has its hands full in Baxter and Newton counties.

A war of press releases, public commentary and rebuttals continues over a large new hog farm in the Buffalo National River watershed that some believe is a threat to the ecosystem of the Ozarks.

Little Rock attorney Hank Bates, whose clients include the Ozark Society, Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association and the Arkansas Canoe Club, expects to meet today with Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Teresa Marks.

That’s just a sampling of those opposed to C & H Hog Farm Inc. in Newton County. The latest — Dr. John Van Brahana, a retired professor of geosciences for the University of Arkansas — explained his opposition Monday on university letterhead stationery.

The hog farm fight is just one on the north Arkansas front for ADEQ. The agency has filed a lawsuit against the six-county Ozark Mountain Solid Waste Management District, which includes Newton County, seeking a judge’s order to district directors to bring the NABORS landfill in north Baxter County into compliance with environmental and financial-assurance regulations.

Citizens for Clean Water complained Wednesday about a lack of action by ADEQ for cleanup of the Damco Inc. waste tire storage site in north Baxter County. The facility is approved to store 880 bales of tires containing 100 tires each. A recent inspection shows it contains 4,000 bales of tires.…

June 4, 2013

AR Mineral Oil Spill

Read here about a mineral oil spill in Arkansas that is being cleaned up.


May 20, 2013

No Pollution Found in AR Fracking Study

Read here about a study in Arkansas that found no contamination in drinking water wells resulting from hydraulic fracturing.


May 7, 2013

Arkansas Spill Zone Residents Await Plan to Return Home; New Leak in Missouri

Source:, May 6, 2013
By: Candy McCampbell

One month after a pipeline rupture sent 210,000 gal of heavy crude oil through an Arkansas neighborhood, officials announced initiation of a “reentry plan” so residents can start returning to their homes.

That return will be “over the next few weeks,” according to a statement from the city-county-EPA-ExxonMobil command headquarters in Mayflower, Ark., near Little Rock.

“We are working with the construction crews and local Unified Command now to try to finalize the details around dates/times for these questions, but we don’t have that just yet,” Russ Roberts, ExxonMobil spokesman, says in response to questions about when homes would be available for occupancy and the neighborhood cleaned up.

The cause of the 22-ft gash in the Pegasus pipeline on March 29 is still under investigation. The 90,000-barrel-a-day pipeline carries diluted bitumen crude, or dilbit, from Patoka, Ill., to Nederland, Texas.

Meanwhile, the pipeline had a second, smaller breach near Doniphan, Mo., about 200 miles north of Mayflower. ExxonMobil said it was notified April 30 and that about one barrel, or 42 gal, leaked. The repair was completed May 3, but the pipeline remains shut down.

That breach is also being investigated. A preliminary investigation indicates the breach is related to action by an unspecified third party, Roberts says. The pipeline is marked.…

April 8, 2013

Oil barrels recovered in AR

Read here about thousands of barrels of oil and water that have been recovered after a pipeline ruptured in Arkansas.


April 2, 2013

Arkansas Town Hit By Oil Spill

Source: Dow Jones News Service, March 31, 2013
Posted on:


Crews cleaned up thousands of barrels of crude over the weekend after an Exxon Mobil Corp. pipeline ruptured and polluted an Arkansas town — an incident that underscored the fragility of the U.S. pipeline network.

Exxon said Friday’s breach caused a few thousand barrels of oil to spill into Mayflower, a town of less than 3,000 about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock. The Environmental Protection Agency called it a “major spill,” a category that includes any spill larger than 250 barrels.

More than 20 homes were evacuated. Other neighbors left to avoid the smell or breathing problems exacerbated by fumes, said state Rep. Doug House, a Republican from North Little Rock whose district includes Mayflower. He added that air monitors have found the air is safe in most areas.

Exxon said the pipeline, which is buried two feet underground, has been shut down.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Sunday that an inspector was investigating the cause of the breach in the pipeline.

Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast, on Sunday drew links between the Arkansas incident and Keystone. Steve Kretzmann, executive director of nonprofit advocacy group Oil Change International, predicted more incidents like the one in Mayflower if Keystone is built.

In a review last month, the U.S. State Department didn’t find major environmental risks associated with Keystone. The agency said TransCanada Corp. had agreed to conditions to reduce risks of spills or leaks.