Banner Year in Arkansas: The Top 10 Business Stories of 2013

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

Ashley Bancstock Co. of Crossett is in the early stages of selling First Community Bank of Crawford County to First Bank of Hampton (Calhoun County). The troubled $66.8 million-asset lender in Van Buren is under a supervisory agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The smallest bank in Arkansas, $23.9 million-asset Bank of Rison (Cleveland County), found a buyer: Sigma Holdings Inc. of Little Rock, a newly formed venture led by veteran Little Rock banker Troy Duke and Garland County businessman Lewis Ray “L.R.” Gardner. The cash deal closed in September and weighed in at about $3.8 million.

2. Mayflower Oil Spill

On March 29, the name Mayflower became synonymous with “disaster” as a neighborhood in the small community between North Little Rock and Conway was suddenly flooded with more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil.

The oil flowed out of a 22-foot rupture in the Pegasus, an 850-mile-long gas and oil pipeline owned by energy giant ExxonMobil. The 20-inch-diameter pipe runs from Patoka, Ill., about 85 miles east of St. Louis, to Nederland, Texas, near Port Arthur on the Louisiana border, and could carry 95,000 barrels of crude per day. The northern section of the pipe, which runs through Arkansas, was built in 1947 and 1948.

The spill quickly gained national attention, and Exxon was placed under heavy scrutiny as it was slow to offer an explanation for the rupture and the spill site was cordoned off from the public.

What followed were several grueling months of cleanup and investigations, and definitive closure to the story hasn’t been reached even nine months later.

By mid-April, 28,000 barrels of oily water and around 2,000 cubic yards of oiled soil and debris had been recovered from the area around the spill.

By May, damage from the incident was estimated at $16 million.

The spill forced more than 20 families from their homes, and several of the homes were subsequently demolished due to damage from the oil.

Moreover, the oil flowed from the neighborhood into a cove connected to Lake Conway, and the pipeline runs through the Lake Maumelle watershed as well as 17 more of Arkansas’ drinking-water sources.

Though Exxon has said the spill did not affect drinking water, investigations are still being carried out to verify this.

The Arkansas Health Department in June urged Exxon to consider moving the pipeline away from drinking-water sources, but the company has not yet responded to this request.



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