(KARK) For the first time Sunday, journalists were allowed inside the Mayflower neighborhood where an estimated 2,000 barrels of crude oil rushed from a ruptured pipeline.
Even after more than 48 hours of around-the-clock work, much of the neighborhood remained a gooey mess.
For crews working to remove heavy crude oil from streets, driveways and yards in the Northwood Subdivision, it's a tedious and dirty job.
"I'm satisfied with the progress and with the rate it's being made," said Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson.
Air samples taken Sunday by the EPA and ExxonMobile inside the neighborhood showed levels of toxins have come down in the aftermath of the spill.
That's good news for residents who live in 22 homes that remain evacuated.
"Hopefully in the near immediate future we can get residents back into certain areas of the neighborhood," said Nicolas Brescia with the E.P.A.
Data from air samples is being shared with the Arkansas Department of Health, the agency responsible to making the call on when residents can return to Northwood.
The cause of the spill is still being investigated.
The pipeline that burst, called Pegasus, was built in the late 1940's.
An ExxonMobile spokesman said pipelines that old are not uncommon and said there's no indication that recent inspections produced any red flags.
A DOT investigator who viewed the site where the spill originated said he observed a 2 to 3 inch gash in the pipeline.
He said there was no obvious cause of the break at the scene.
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