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Pipeline companies in Mayflower spill settlement say they won't move pipeline from watershed

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Two subsidiaries of ExxonMobil said in a court filing Friday that they won't move the Pegasus Pipeline from beneath the watershed where Central Arkansas gets most of its drinking water.

Earlier this month, Central Arkansas Water utility officials asked a federal judge to reject a proposed settlement among the companies— ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipe Line Company— and state and federal agencies over a 2013 oil spill in Mayflower unless the companies agreed to move the pipeline out of the Lake Maumelle watershed. About 400,000 Arkansas residents get drinking water from the watershed.

State and federal officials have said the negotiations for the settlement were thorough and have urged the judge to approve the agreement. A utility spokesman was out of town late Friday and was unavailable for comment.

The proposed settlement would require the subsidiaries to pay about $5 million in penalties for state and federal violations caused when a 22-foot portion of the Pegasus Pipeline ruptured, spilling oil into a cove of Lake Conway.

In the filing, the companies wrote that the northern portion of the Pegasus Pipeline will not be restarted for at least a year and will restart only after the federal pipeline regulation group has given it safety approval. They also noted that the portion of the pipeline that ruptured was not in the Lake Maumelle watershed.

The companies wrote in the filing that the previous operator of the pipeline and the previous water utility agreed upon the location of the pipeline. According to the companies' filing, the pipeline was there before the man-made Lake Maumelle, and the pipeline company agreed in 1956 to relocate into the watershed to help the utility finish the project.

"The current location of the Pegasus Pipeline near Lake Maumelle is precisely where the water utility specified it," an attorney for the companies wrote.

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