The Department of Justice and the State of Arkansas filed suit against Exxon on Thursday, after emails surfaced revealing the company misled the public about its March 29 spill in Mayflower, Ark. The suit claims Exxon stored oil and oil-contaminated clean-up material from the Pegasus pipeline spill next to a state highway without a permit and left the materials there even after they were told to remove them on May 1.
When Pegasus ruptured 30 miles northwest of Little Rock in the town of Mayflower, hundreds of thousands of gallons of Canadian tar sands oil and diluted bitumen spilled into the suburbs, contaminating Lake Conway and a nearby marsh.
Exxon initially downplayed the threat of oil to residents and the environment, despite being aware of the fact that Lake Conway was contaminated. The emails show they put false information on press releases after the spill.
"This spill disrupted lives and damaged our environment," Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in a statement. "As the party responsible for this incident, Exxon is also responsible for the penalties imposed by the state for the damage to our environment and the company should foot the bill for the state's clean-up costs."
The claim seeks $45,000 per day for the illegal storage of contaminated waste and $1,100-$4,300 per barrel leaked.
McDaniel and the Environmental Protection Agency also seek civil penalties from Exxon for violating state and federal clean water and air laws. Those violations could cost Exxon $10,000 per violation per day, according to CNN.
It is estimated that the March spill included 3,500 to 19,000 barrels of crude oil. In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster dumped 5 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico.