| June 10
June 10 A U.S. federal judge has denied
ExxonMobil Corp's bid to dismiss a government lawsuit
and instead ordered the oil giant to hand over documents going
back decades on a pipeline that ruptured last year and inundated
an Arkansas town with oil.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled on Tuesday the
company must hand over requested information on the entire
850-mile (1,370-km) Pegasus pipeline, which spilled about 5,000
barrels of crude oil in a residential neighborhood in Mayflower,
Arkansas, in March 2013.
She also said ExxonMobil should speed up the
handover of documents sought by the state's attorney general and
the U.S. Department of Justice, which brought the case, and set
a deadline of July 10.
The company had said it needed more time to go through
millions of electronic and paper records to comply with requests
from overlapping state and federal cases related to the spill.
"The court understands the defendants have a large amount of
discovery to produce. However, providing defendants an unduly
long period of time to complete that discovery raises the
possibility of prejudice to plaintiffs," Baker wrote.
Exxon had argued it should only produce information going
back to 2000, but Baker ordered the company release material
dating back to 1988.
On Monday, Baker rejected the oil company's motion to drop
the suit brought by the state and federal government.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told Reuters the
aim was to gather as much information as possible as the case
heads toward trial.
About 22 homes in Mayflower were evacuated after the oil
slick swamped the town and nearby wetlands, flowing into a lake
and the Arkansas River, the state claims in the case.
Arkansas is seeking civil penalties from the company for
alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act as well as
state laws, claiming the oil spill contaminated land and
waterways and potentially harmed public health.
ExxonMobil had no comment on the order, which the company
has yet to fully review, spokesman Aaron Stryk said in an email.
U.S. regulators said last year the leak in the nearly
70-year-old pipeline was likely caused by an original
manufacturing defect. The 95,000-barrel-per-day pipeline is
still shut down, Stryk said.
The case is USA et al v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company et al
in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas
(Little Rock), No. 4:13-cv-00355-KGB
(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Howard Goller and