Emergency crews sent by US oil giant ExxonMobil worked Sunday to contain several thousand gallons of of Alberta oil-sands crude -- the same oil destined for the controversial Keystone XL project -- that spilled from a ruptured company pipeline in central Arkansas, the corporation said.
The rupture occurred Friday afternoon in a section of the Pegasus pipeline near the town of Mayflower, which has a population of about 1,700 people and is located north of Little Rock.
According to Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that about 2,000 barrels of oil have been released into the neighborhood, but so far, responders have been able to stop the oil from flowing into Lake Conway.
"We regret that this incident has occurred and apologize for any disruption and inconvenience that it has caused," Karen Tyrone, southern operations manager of ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, said in a statement.
"Our focus is on protecting health, safety and the environment," she added. We will be here until the cleanup is complete."
As many as 22 homes in the vicinity of the spill had to be evacuated, local media reported.
The EPA categorized the incident as a "major spill," ExxonMobil acknowledged.