Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Good Friday Spill: Mayflower, Arkansas

From:  Bold Nebraska

By - April 18, 2014

Photo by Mary Anne Andrei
“I know everybody in Mayflower,” says Linda Lynch of her hometown in Arkansas. It seems almost possible. A bedroom community for Little Rock some 20 miles down I-40, Mayflower is a town of barely 1,600 with just one shopping center—a grocery store, a Dollar Store, and a Subway. In such a small town, Linda insists that she would have heard about an oil pipeline if any knew about it. But when she retired from her career as a paralegal and moved here from North Little Rock, no one cautioned that her daughter-in-law’s property on Snuggs Circle was a stone’s throw from an ExxonMobile right of way, much less that the company had reversed the flow of the 20-inch pipeline in April 2006, in order to carry tar sands crude from western Alberta to the refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. 

So Linda had her trailer moved in and started volunteering at the food pantry across the road at the Mayflower Full Gospel Pentecostal Church of God, where her son and his family already attended church. Once a week, she met up with fellow congregants in the squat cinderblock building behind the church to pack food boxes and distribute to needy families. On Good Friday of last year, Linda planned to go to the fellowship hall to make corsages to give the children to wear on Easter Sunday. She called her daughter-in-law, Barbara, and caught her at the Dollar Store buying ribbons. Barbara told Linda she would meet her at the church about four o’clock.
Photo by Mary Anne Andrei

But when Linda pulled up to the church about an hour later, she says she “smelled something,” something terrible in the air outside, and called Barbara back to ask about the odor. Barbara told her that the fumes had already permeated the shopping center and she had heard someone say a gas line had ruptured. But it didn’t smell like gas, Barbara said, and by now the parking lot outside the Dollar Store was crowded with emergency vehicles. She wasn’t sure how long it would take her to get home.  MORE

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