Plains All American Pipeline, which is working with Valero Energy Corp. to bisect Arkansas with a pipeline carrying crude oil from Oklahoma to Tennessee, has a history of safety violations with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and is responsible for three major oil spills in Alberta, Canada, including a spill of 28,000 barrels of crude oil into wetlands near Little Buffalo, Alberta, records show.
In a settlement over violations related to spills in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas, the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 fined Plains $3.25 million and required the company to spend $41 million to upgrade its crude oil pipelines in the U.S.
Arkansas law gives pipeline companies the power of eminent domain if landowners are not willing to negotiate a price for the use of their land. Plains All American will be required to get permits from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (for stormwater construction and hydrostatic testing), the Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for parts of the route that affect waterways. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is concerned that the $800 million project, called the Diamond Pipeline Project, would pass through three of its wildlife management areas, including the ecologically significant Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA, and hopes to persuade the Army Engineers to require individual permits for each waterway crossing rather than a blanket permit for the work.