Louisiana Oil Well Blowout Prompts Evacuations

Thursday, August 19, 2010
By Paul Martin

Louisiana Oil Well Blowout Prompts Evacuations, Could Take Weeks to Contain

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

An out-of-control oil well in Louisiana’s Assumption Parish could continue gushing for six weeks, following a blowout last week. Last Wednesday’s blowout resulted in the evacuation of residents from six nearby homes and shut down a two-mile stretch of Louisiana highway 70, between Louisiana highways 1 and 996, according to a report on DailyComet.com.

The well is operated by Mantle Oil and Gas LLC of Friendswood, Texas. The blowout occurred last Wednesday, around 3:30 a.m. local time. No one was injured. The exploratory well, west of Paincourtville and located in a large sugar-cane tract, was in the process of being finished when the blowout occurred.
Rainy weather has delayed operations to cap the well since last week, DailyComet.com said. The highway will remain closed and evacuated residents will not be allowed to return until after the well is capped.

Crews tried twice to ignite the wellhead to stop the 200-foot geyser created by the accident, but that effort has been abandoned due to winds. Crews are now preparing to begin drilling a relief well that would allow crews to inject cement through a pipe to seal off the oil. According to DailyComet.com, the relief well could take six weeks to complete. It is hoped that drilling will start this week, but that is dependant on the weather.

According to a report on 2theadvocate.com, the people and environment of Assumption Parish are already beginning to suffer because of the blowout. Sugar cane in the vicinity of the blowout is reportedly turning yellow.

Some residents have reported irritated eyes and noses, headaches and dizziness resulting from the well’s emissions, and 19 people have been treated for minor health issues related to the blowout, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Residents continue to report an oily stench around the parish, and many have said their symptoms subside when they are away from the odor.

The owner of the No Problem Raceway Park, which sits inside the evacuation area, told DailyComet.com that the blowout is already taking a toll on his business. September is one of the busiest months for the raceway, and a six week closure would be devastating, he said.

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