An open letter to the people of Central Arkansas; their elected, appointed, and corporate officials.
As children we are taught that the “now or never” mentality is an effacing characteristic—that it makes our position small, and maybe even irrelevant. We are taught, therefore, to be patient. We are conditioned to wait. And sadly, many of us always will. But when ExxonMobil Pipeline Company decimated the wetlands at the southern end of Lake Conway on March 29, 2013, many people began to act immediately. It is now quite clear to those of us who have been actively researching and documenting the spill in Mayflower that we would be foolish not to adopt an impatient stance. Time is, truly, of the essence. We are not only dealing with criminal negligence in the present. It should be clear by now that there are several indications of a larger and more dangerous threat to the future health and stability of generations of Arkansans.
The harm we allow in Arkansas in the present is the harm in which we are complicit downstream—in the future. Considering the magnitude of our responsibility in these matters, our immediate response is crucial to the health and well-being of several generations to come—not only for Arkansans, but everyone living in the greater Delta region.
We cannot put a price on direct and appropriate responses to these kinds of threats. Interestingly enough, the resources of one of the largest, if not THE largest corporation on the planet are not presently being deployed to even a fraction of their capacity. The burden should not land in the medical records and bottom lines of private citizens or community businesses. A simple question, then, is this: Who is to foot the bill for informing the public, and protecting their interests? The public themselves? No. These matters are much bigger; beyond, perhaps, even the scope of our present knowledge with regard to health and safety. We are, after all, dealing with some of the most carcinogenic substances known to science. We should demand, now or never, that ExxonMobil Pipeline Company bear the cost of the real burden in Mayflower. Arguing like children regarding what that burden is, and the full financial implications of the same is, it would seem, a litigious trap.
Let us not fall into it, then.
ExxonMobil Pipeline is wholly responsible, due to a clear and irrefutable negligence on its part in the Mayflower spill. This “legal” matter has been settled countless times by prior litigation and research. It is time, now, for us to hold it to account. Pipes buried some 70 years ago in the forgotten (literally) fields of Arkansas have not been properly maintained and are presently tasked with a greater load than can be borne by the structure set in place to maintain them, which, unless I am sorely mistaken, does not in all actuality even exist. Indeed, there appears upon close inspection to have been no regular system of maintenance and minimal control put in place to act should it become necessary to do so.
We should not only act immediately, we should act retroactively and, in this instance, in perpetuity. What can we do to insure this event is not repeated time and time again? I will clarify by saying that what has been done in the past, what is being done today, and the apparent slow plodding course of “correction” are far too arthritic and lame to positively impact appropriate, healthy, sustainable growth while protecting and properly developing new infrastructures and growth which will inevitably come to this industry and its consumers.
We are all connected. And how, precisely, is this impacting Central Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta? From my limited knowledge and perspective, I do not hesitate to say that those effected by this disaster presently bear the greatest cost, while those who affected it continue to profit - even from their loss.
ExxonMobil Pipeline Company Steadily Removing Ton after Ton of Material
Lake Conway, Mayflower, Arkansas.