Feds Issue No-Fly Zone over Site of Exxon Oil Spill Cleanup

Steve Horn confirmed Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a no-fly zone over Mayflower, Arkansas, where the Pegasus oil pipeline ruptured on Friday spilling an estimated 12,000 barrels of Canadian crude (or 504,000 gallons) into lawns, driveways and drainage ditches in a suburban housing development. Authorities told local TV reporters that at least 40 homes were evacuated last Friday.

The federal order restricts flight below 1,000 feet, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which first broke news of the FAA’s order. The daily newspaper also reported that ExxonMobil, which owns the pipeline, is in charge of the cleanup. The flight restriction means news helicopters cannot report on the magnitude of the spill in detail.

The Pegasus pipeline is 65 years old and can transport upwards of 90,000 barrels (or 3.8 million gallons) a day from Illinois to Texas. The leak occurred just a few days after a train derailed in Minnesota, spilling approximately 15,000 gallons of tar-sands crude.

The spills come amid a battle over the Keystone XL pipeline, which if approved by the Obama administration would transport Canadian tar-sands crude, the dirtiest oil on the planet, to the Gulf Coast. The Spectator‘s Lou Dubose reports that it might already be a done deal.

The State Department, which must sign off on the proposed pipeline, released a statement last month that downplayed concerns among environmentalists that the pipeline would lead to increased rates of spillage and a spike in carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Mother Jones and others later revealed that the official document was written by a firm with ties to TransCanada, the oil company that wants to build the pipeline.

KARK-TV’s Adam Randall took aerial footage of the spill prior to the FAA’s order. This video clip was made available by political satirist Lee Camp.