Cameron man recalls 1979 oil well explosion in the gulf

By Crystal Price - bio | email

CAMERON, LA (KPLC) - As the oil spill approaches the coastline, some folks in Cameron, Louisiana are comparing this spill to the exploratory well that blew up in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979.

In 1979 an exploratory well on the bay of Campeche operated by the Mexican National Oil Company blew up and leaked for a full year.

Louis Boullion of Cameron Louisiana was working for Phillips 66 at the time of the explosion.

"I knew it was getting close to us and then they pumped it up and put in the tanks to keep it from spreading," said Boullion. "The oil had too much pressure and it caused an accident."

The spill contaminated the beaches of Port Arthur and other Texas beaches for at least a year, but as he recalls the beaches near Cameron remained untouched.

"We were just lucky we had a little bit of space there and it didn't hit us," said Boullion.

This means the 1979 explosion did not hurt business for the shrimpers back then.

"Most of the fish, they stay under," said Boullion. "The oil doesn't go under because it stays on top," said Boullion.

But this time around the folks in Cameron are not too sure where the spill is headed.

"The waves are stirring and it keeps pushing it this way," said Boullion.

Boullion said shrimpers are taking advantage of the early shrimp season before it's too late.

"They're letting them go fish because if the oil got to them then it would ruin the fishing bay for at least a year," said Boullion.

Now all the shrimpers can do is prepare for the worst case scenario.

"As long as the oil does not get on the bay it will be all right, but it's coming toward the bay," said Boullion.

"It seems to me after all these years they should know what happened to those oil explosions already so that they can find out how to prevent it."

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