Mayflower, AR, April 4 – We had hoped to interview some affected residents, but they were too sick to talk to us. They live on a street immediately adjacent to the ones which were evacuated. Some homes which were not evacuated are actually closer to the spill than those which were – they’re a couple minutes by car but they’re only separated by a small grove of trees. The residents had not been contacted by Exxon or warned in any way about the dangers of tar sands. Both canceled the interview because they were feeling too sick to meet. Vomiting, headaches, dizziness, burning throats and coughing: the exact same symptoms felt by Kalamazoo residents after the Enbridge tar sands spill there in 2010.
Evacuated residents are being housed in hotels. Exxon says it plans to rent homes for them. Non-evacuated residents who are actually closer to the spill site have been given nothing. No medical attention, no offers of alternate housing, no information.
Exxon finally admitted today that what spilled from the pipe was tar sands. Before that, they had admitted that it wasn’t crude but were coy with the semantics. One evacuee who had asked about the distinction in meetings with Exxon told us that he’d been asked “well what’s your definition of tar sands?”