The lawsuit that state and federal officials in Arkansas filed last week against ExxonMobil is unusual, pipeline experts say, because government agencies usually wait much longer—sometimes even years—before filing lawsuits against companies involved in pipeline accidents.
Levine, the former EPA attorney, said a number of interim steps are usually taken before a lawsuit of this nature is filed. The first step is asking for voluntary compliance, Levine said. The company and the regulators agree on what remediation is needed and what additional safeguards need to be put into place. "Then there would be a period of time—longer than three months—where the company would act and regulators would monitor the progress," he said.
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