The Department of Justice (DOJ) and State Of Arkansas decided last week to sue Exxon after emails revealed the company had misled the public about what was really happening during one of their most recent oil spills.
It was nearly three months ago that Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas spilling hundres of thousands of gallons of diluted bitumen and tar sands oil from Canada into a residential neighborhood.
The oil spill contamination spread to a nearby marsh and eventually contaminated Lake Conway, a popular local fishing spot. These contaminations posed a threat to local residents and were initially played down by the oil company following the spill.
This is despite many residents and local politicians feeling that things were progressing nicely, maybe even getting to a point where things were better than before the spill.
After the emails revealing that Exxon misled the public about the oil spills were released, the DOJ and Arkansas filed a suit that seeks $1,100-$4,300 per barrel discharged and $45,000/day for the illegal storage of contaminated waste removed from the spill site.
Some experts think it’s strange that the two parties have moved to sue Exxon so soon after the contamination. Normally, governments agencies wait much longer – sometimes years – before filing a suit. It’s not sure whether it’s because there is something more sinister at play behind the scenes, or simply because the evidence is so clear-cut against Exxon.
Emails obtained show that the company tried to use factually incorrect information in their press releases following the spill. Reports from Rep. Ed Markey also show that the company used an unapproved emergency response plan in the aftermath of the contamination.
Despite Exxon being sued, some locals are still supportive, even after the revealing emails show that they misled the public following the oil spills.