T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Industry regulation, remediation of accidental spills, and industry's benefits to employees’ families
Hal McMillin by Chelsea Arseneault, 2016.
CHELSEA ARSENEAULT: So I have to ask. So you are pro-industry, but you’re also pro, it sounds like, environment. You want conservation and you want . . .


ARSENEAULT: How do you reconcile that when it sometimes doesn’t . . .?

MCMILLIN: Well, it does. It really does. I mean we have the agencies that watch the industries. I was part of the environmental group for five years, so I have first-hand knowledge of going on inspections with the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality]. I have first-hand knowledge of the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] being in the plant, and those guys take their job very serious and they watch out. And that was in 1999. The industries, like everything else out there, whether it’s a computer or any . . . from the iPhones, have exponentially grown greatly in their ability to be more efficient.

The industries, they don’t . . . They try not to have any upsets, and try to not to hurt our environment, and they have checks and balances in there. I was a part of the era that in the ‘70s wasn’t near as restricted as it is now. But we wasn’t ever hurting the environment, we . . . But they’re very strict and they watch it. And they’re very . . . We’ve got really good agencies that watch our environment. So I have a lot of faith in what those guys doing. I mean I don’t feel like our plants are here . . .

Is there a bit of a trade off with the lights and the noise and the traffic and things like this? Absolutely. But look at the good jobs we have. Look at . . . As I talked earlier about the 401Ks, and insurance, and the great lives you can have, and the vacations you can take, and the homecoming gowns you can buy for your kids, and afford things because you have a good job in the industry. So, yeah. And I am an outdoorsman, and they put a lot back. They put a lot back to the outdoors. Or as an auctioneer I often see whether it’s the industry itself, or a contractor of the industry spending money with Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Whitetail Deer, the different auctions that I get to do. They put a lot back into the community and . . .

ARSENEAULT: How about any accidental spills? Like I know . . . I don’t know if it was Conoco, but Condea Vista in the . . . Mossville. I don’t know if you remember.

MCMILLIN: Yeah the EDC [ethylene dichloride] spill?



ARSENEAULT: Do you remember?

MCMILLIN: Yeah I was right in the middle of it. I know all about it. And I know that there’s been remediation of that. There was a . . . They’d put all kind of wells in. That we used to check the sands in those wells. Check to see if there was any contamination and then different levels whether it was twenty foot, eighty foot, hundred foot . . . but there has been mistakes made. I mean my gosh, we’re all capable of not doing a hundred percent all the time. But they’ve done a lot of work to remediate all that. And they bought out a lot of people in that Bel Air area that they thought was affected. So they’ve done the right thing in my mind to make things better. And anytime you can have what essentially started out as a nine billion dollar project, and now eleven billion dollar project, right here in my police jury district, in my hometown, that hopefully my kids and grandkids will have opportunity to work at and stay here in southwest Louisiana and not have to move off because they don’t have opportunities here. And that’s one thing that I guess as an elected official working with these industries is give the local people first shot. And they have been pretty good about that.
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This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
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