MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KTHV) - The Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group hosted a town hall meeting in Mayflower Monday, when people across the state and country celebrated Earth Day. In response to the ExxonMobil oil spill that occurred on March 29, the group members said they conducted independent tests on the air and water from Lake Conway.
They presented some of those findings at the meeting, and what they found concerned some people who live in the area.
John Hammons lives near an area known as "The Cove," a body of water sitting across from Lake Conway in Mayflower.
"We can smell it. So I know it's there," Hammons said, who is concerned about his three children and wife, who is seven months pregnant.
"She's broken out in hives, had nose bleeds, (and) respiratory problems," he explained.
The Hammons were among a group of concerned people in the area who met for the town hall meeting.
Chemist Wilma Subra said ExxonMobil is being attentive to those inside the Northwoods subdivision, where thousands of gallons of heavy crude oil spilled nearly one month ago, but others in the area have suffered with little attention.
"There's a population all around that's been made very, very sick by the emissions," Subra said.
To evaluate the situation, Subra independently analyzed air and water data captured from the Lake Conway area, claiming the carcinogen Benzene is present in the region.
This claim was also made Monday by Scott Smith of OPFLEX Solutions, a company offering a sponge-like solution for absorbing oil.
Smith said preliminary findings indicate the presence of tar sands oil in Lake Conway, both in "the cove" of Lake Conway and in the larger lake beyond the cove.
However, these claims have been denied by ExxonMobil representatives. State health officials also said all air quality tests returned safe levels for people in the area.
To view a series of recordings taken by an attendee of Monday's Town Hall meeting, click here.
ExxonMobil responds to the water testing saying:
"In response to your recent inquiry, water sampling confirms the main body of Lake Conway remains oil-free. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality continues to monitor water samples. Further assessments also show there is no oil in Palarm Creek, which is located south of Lake Conway. Water data are posted on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's website and updated as it becomes available.