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Plaintiffs in oil spill lawsuit say pages on pipe repairs now secret, want them open to public

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Plaintiffs in an oil spill lawsuit against Exxon Mobil want documents in the case to be public.

The plaintiffs' attorneys say the oil company has declared every single page of 872,000 pages about the maintenance and repair of the Pegasus pipeline confidential. They filed a motion on Monday in U.S. District Court, asking a federal judge to order Exxon Mobil to "show cause why any document produced to date is entitled to confidentiality."

"ExxonMobil is seeking unprecedented judicial censorship of a dangerous and hazardous situation, which not only affects the property owners in this case, but the public at large," the attorneys wrote.

In 2013, the Pegasus pipeline ruptured in central Arkansas, spilling thousands of gallons of oil in a Mayflower neighborhood. The company has blamed the rupture of the line, built in 1947-48, on manufacturing defects.

PHOTO: FILE - In this Monday, April 15, 2013 file photo, workers watch as a section of damaged oil pipeline is removed from the ground in Mayflower, Ark. Plaintiffs in an oil spill lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, say the oil company has declared every single page of 872,000 pages about the maintenance and repair of the Pegasus pipeline confidential, and want the documents in the case to be public. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, file)
FILE - In this Monday, April 15, 2013 file photo, workers watch as a section of damaged oil pipeline is removed from the ground in Mayflower, Ark. Plaintiffs in an oil spill lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, say the oil company has declared every single page of 872,000 pages about the maintenance and repair of the Pegasus pipeline confidential, and want the documents in the case to be public. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, file)

Exxon Mobil spokesman Christian Flathman told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1zffEL8 ) that the plaintiffs are inaccurate in saying the company stamped all documents confidential. He said Exxon Mobil will respond in court to the motion.

In August, a U.S. district judge granted class-action status in the lawsuit, allowing Arnez and Charletha Harper, of Mayflower, to represent people who currently own property that's subject to an easement for and physically crossed by the Pegasus pipeline. They are seeking the cancellation of those easements and removal or replacement of the pipeline.

The 850-mile-long line runs from Texas to Illinois and was closed shortly after the oil spill. A 212-mile segment of the pipeline in Texas has been restarted.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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