Pipeline Safety Agency Says Public Shouldn't Know Spill Response Plans

August 28, 2013

Remember that March 29, 2013, oil pipeline spill that slimed a major piece of Mayflower, Arkansas? Well we now learn that neither Mayflower residents nor the US public are allowed to know how Exxon planned to clean up such a spill.

That was the position taken by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in its August 2013 response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Pulitzer-winning InsideClimate News. PHMSA blacked out some 100 pages of the 290-page spill response plan document. PHMSA said it was allowed to keep the public from knowing about Exxon's spill response plan because it was a law enforcement agency, and the details withheld could affect public safety.

Those details included the name of the company responsible for the Mayflower spill, ExxonMobil. PHMSA redacted that name so that it read "xxon".