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Toxic Benzene Fills Air Weeks After Tar Sands Spill

More than a month after ExxonMobil's pipeline spilled thousands of barrels tar sands crude, Arkansas Attorney General warns of nauseating conditions in area

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Five weeks after ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline ruptured and spewed thousands of barrels of tar sands oil in Mayflower, Arkansas, residents are stuck "on their own" as they suffer from health problems following noxious black cloak that enveloped their neighborhood.

"Both the subdivision and the cove look more like construction sites than neighborhoods," Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said at a press conference on Tuesday of the cove area of Lake Conway. "There's heavy equipment everywhere, much of it contaminated with oil as it goes down roads and through people's yards."

And in contrast to claims from the government and ExxonMobil that the air is safe to breathe, McDaniel said, "Many continue to suffer from headaches and nausea and air sampling continues to show the carcinogen benzene remains in the air."

As InsideClimate News reported Wednesday, Arkansas Department of Health residents who've been experiencing symptoms like nausea, vomiting and dizziness are "on their own." Dr. William Mason, chief of emergency response at the Arkansas Department of Health, said that if people in the area of the tar sands spill were feeling adverse health effects, "the option for them to leave is their personal choice."


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