• Courtesy Genieve Long

Confident that the emergency portion of the Mayflower oil and chemical spill cleanup has ended, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is testing sediment along the path that oil and chemicals traveled toward, if not indeed into, Lake Conway.


Tammie Hynum, the chief of ADEQ’s hazardous waste division, said the Mayflower Unified Command removed sediment testing from the “response” phase of its clean-up plan. Now that we’re onto the “remediation” phase, the agency will test the crud that succumbed to gravity along the ditches, canal and cove that caught thousands of gallons of oil and chemicals after the March 29 pipeline break.

The state agency will also test the main body of Lake Conway, which is separated from the cove by a couple of culverts and which many Mayflower residents suspect got dosed during the chaos of the spill response. The ADEQ and ExxonMobil have been testing the surface water of the main lake continually for the past four months. But the dense character of the diluted bitumen that oozed into the waterways has made the sediment an object of obvious concern to many observers, Unified Command notwithstanding.


“I’m not aware of any contamination related to the Exxon spill that has reached the main body of the lake,” Hynum said. While that is in itself good news, some residents who live near the lake would react skeptically. One, Genieve Long, who has lived within a block of the lake since childhood, shared this photo, taken in April, that shows pollen (the yellow) swirling in a cloud that Long says is darker than anything she’d ever before seen in Lake Conway.

Hynum said results of these tests should begin arriving next week.