July began with a great commotion due to the fire that broke out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, near the beaches of Campeche. A gas leak from the Ku platform area in Pemex’s Sound of Campeche made us see those strange flames in the middle of the sea. This led us to carry out a small investigation into the worst accidents caused by that company, regarding the environmental impact and social footprint caused to our country. Arranged according to chronology, not significance.
1979: Pozo Ixtoc-I, Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche
On the 3rd of June, while drilling at a depth of 11,900 feet, a failure in the circulation of the drilling fluid caused the accumulation of oil and gas in the pipes, leading to an explosion when the gas emanating from the subsoil came in contact with the pump’s engines.
The accident caused the platform to collapse, producing a great spill and fire that lasted 280 days, during which an approximate volume of 560 million liters of raw oil were spilled. 50% of that amount was burned, 16% evaporated, 5.4% was collected and 28% dispersed, according to PEMEX reports. Currents took the oil to the coastal areas of Campeche, Tabasco, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, also polluting certain areas of Texas.
1984: San Juan Ixhuatepec (San Juanico), State of Mexico
The accident began due to the rupture of a pipe of 20 centimeters in diameter that transported LP gas. Probably ten minutes later, a fire started, when the gas found a spark, this triggered a series of explosions of vapors that expanded when the liquid boiled. There were more than 500 people killed, 7,000 injured, 60,000 evacuated, 149 homes destroyed, 16 with major damage and 1,358 with minor damage. The plant was practically destroyed.
1992: Guadalajara, Jalisco
A series of explosions at the Colector Intermedio de Oriente in Guadalajara. The official balance of the explosions was 212 dead, 69 missing, 1,470 injured, eight kilometers of streets were destroyed and 1,142 homes, 450 shops, 100 schools and 600 vehicles were affected.
The official explanation was that the explosions originated with the gasoline spilled by polyduct Salamanca-Guadalajara in the Álamo Industrial neighborhood, where there were also hydrocarbons discharged by industrial plants and workshops.
2016: Colorados III, “Pajaritos”, Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz
The fire in Pajaritos happened exactly five years after an explosion inside the same plant that left 136 injured and 32 dead. It was on April 20, 2016 when an explosion occurred inside Clorados III of the Petroquímica Mexicana de Vinyl (PMV) company, operated in partnership by Mexichem and Pemex. The extent of this accident’s environmental impact is unknown.
2019: Tlahuelilpan y los “huachicoleros” en Hidalgo
An explosion in a Pemex pipeline that transported fuel in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, while residents tried to extract gasoline from underground pipelines. In addition to the 137 human lives lost as a result of this tragedy, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) reported that the concentration of hydrocarbons will remain for years, these are persistent and irreversible pollutants in the soil that will give rise to serious disturbances both in the vegetables as well as the animals that consume them.