Explosion on another Gulf of Mexico oil platform

Posted In Gulf Oil Catastrophe, News

Oil Rig Explosion

By Matt Davis, The Associated Press.

An oil platform explosion today in the Gulf of Mexico forced the crew to jump into the sea and threatened further damage to waters still recovering from the BP disaster.

Fire engulfed the offshore platform 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the Louisiana coast shortly after 9:00 am (1400 GMT) and massive plumes of gray smoke billowed into the sky as rescuers rushed to fish out the workers.

Photographs showed the 13-strong crew linking arms as they bobbed up and down in special flotation suits before being plucked out by helicopters and taken to a nearby rig and on to a mainland hospital.

All escaped serious injury.

Workers told rescue crews that they managed to shut down the wells before evacuating the platform and had spotted a thin sheen of oil spreading for about a mile (1.6 kilometers.)

Fire crews managed to extinguish the blaze after about five hours and the oil sheen was no longer visible by the time the Coast Guard arrived.

“The fire is out, and Coast Guard helicopters on scene and vessels on scene have no reports of a visible sheen in the water,” Captain Peter Troedsson, chief of staff for the Eighth Coast Guard District, told reporters.

“There’s no report or any evidence of leaks, but we continue to investigate and to monitor that situation to make sure that that doesn’t change.”

The incident ignited fresh criticism of the oil and gas industry as the region struggles to recover from the BP disaster, which was the largest ever maritime oil spill.

“The BP disaster was supposed to be the wake up call, but we hit the snooze button. Today the alarm went off again,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.

“The oil industry continues to rail against regulation but it’s become all too clear that the current approach to offshore drilling is simply too dangerous.”

“How many times are we going to gamble with lives, economies and ecosystems?” said John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director. “It’s time we learn from our mistakes and go beyond oil.”

The Mariner Energy platform which caught fire Thursday was operating in relatively shallow water, about 340 feet (103 meters), and was not drilling at the time of the explosion, the Texas-based company said.

It had been producing approximately 1,400 barrels of oil and condensate and 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said Mariner told him that the fire started in one of seven active wells on the platform and that “all seven are shut in right now.”

The White House said it was monitoring the situation and reserved judgment until more information was available.

“We will continue to gather information as we respond, we obviously have response assets ready for deployment, should we receive reports of pollution in the water,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Gibbs declined to say whether the president believed inspections of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico was moving fast enough in the wake of the BP disaster.

“Obviously we’ve had taken some, we took a series of steps after the BP incident,” Gibbs said.

“If this situation warrants, we’ll certainly update that.”

It was also not clear how this incident would affect Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling, which is being challenged in the courts and has faced harsh criticism from his political foes.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has held a congressional investigation into the BP spill, sent a swift letter to Marina Energy’s chairman requesting a briefing on the incident.

“In the wake of the BP catastrophe, this is an extremely disturbing event,” said committee chairman Henry Waxman.

“I call on the administration to immediately redouble safety reviews of all offshore drilling and platform operations in the gulf and take all appropriate action to ensure safety and protection of the environment.”

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  • Deep Water Horizon Response is the official site of the incident in conjunction with BP, DOI, NPS, USGS, CDC, USFWS, NOAA and other branches of the US government (collectively called Unified Command). Information, including the latest news, photos, area plans, and volunteer information.
  • NOAA is a government program that uses science and research to protect life, property and natural resources. This NOAA site provides maps of the spill and related statistics, including a trajectory forecast map for the oil spill.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency provides data on Air, Land, and Water pollutants including sampling maps and contaminant levels.


  • Volunteer Louisiana is the official site for the State of Louisiana to get involved in the spill response.
  • The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries provides maps of closures to fishing areas in LA.
  • The Louisiana Emergency Office has made Google Earth files of the spill available to the public here http://gohsep.la.gov/oilspill.aspx and also has current information on general closures of waterways, photos, and reports.
  • The Audubon Nature Institute site provides a number for citizens to call if turtles, manatees, dolphins, or other animals are in distress
  • The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is a CA based non-profit is advising folks in the Gulf of Mexico on best practices and provide resources on how people can help.
  • The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is a non-profit organization who strive to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. Volunteers are needed for numerous actions including: monitoring, oiled wildlife recovery, boat driving, or simple monetary donations.
  • The Greater New Orleans Foundation is a philanthropic organization in Louisiana and the surrounding region that joins with other non-profit, foundations and community and government officials to address the needs of the community. The Foundation has opened the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.
  • The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization working with communities near oil refineries and chemical plants. They aid residents in these regions to reduce pollution and protect public health. The Brigade has formed an incident map where you can report observed signs of oil.


  • The Alabama Coastal Foundation is an education based organization whose mission is to project the quality of Alabama’s coastal resources. They are currently training volunteers to help directly with the spill response.
  • The site by the Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives gives basic phone numbers.
  • The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is an organization funded by the EPA fighting the environmental challenged facing Mobile Bay. This site gives e-mail addresses and phone numbers to help and provides basic information.
  • The Mobile Bay Keeper is a group of citizens who are interested in preserving the Mobile Bay watershed as well as protecting the health of the individuals and environment in the Bay. Check out the latest information about the spill and learn how to become a member and donate to the cause.



  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency in FL and this website provides the most thorough information in the state.
  • Volunteer Florida, the website of the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the State Emergency Response Team, lists volunteer opportunities by county.
  • The Escambia County site provides summary points of actions taken by BP and FL with a focus on the County.
  • The Pinellas County site is a concise list of related local websites and numbers for information.
  • The Gulf County site has current news on the spill as it relates to the county
  • Volunteer directly with the largest wild bird hospital in the United States, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

Organizations and other networks

  • American Birding Association
  • Audubon is a global leader in protecting birds and other wildlife and their habitats. They are partnering with other organizations.
  • The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization that works to protect communities, wild places, and the planet. Updates on the oil spill, as well as volunteer and donation information.
  • The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization with a mission to preserve and protect ecologically significant lands and waters for nature and people. Learn more about the oil spill and how to help out at http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/alabama/features/oilspill.html and check out their blog.
  • Sea Grant is nationwide network (administered through NOAA) of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities on environmental stewardship and the responsible use of our coasts. The Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs provides resources to educators with research that may be impacted by the spill.
  • The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization whose mission is to protect and restore wildlife habitat, confront global warming and connect with nature. Get the latest information on the oil spill crisis and how to help.
  • The mission of Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research is to provide rehabilitation of injured, orphaned, and oiled native wild birds to return to their natural environment. Donate to their research.
  • Green Peace is an international organization that strives to save the planet from environmental threats such as global warming, destruction of forests and deterioration of the oceans. Follow their blog and learn how to take action.
  • Global Green USA is an international environmental non-profit organization with an office in New Orleans that strives to fight global climate change, eliminate weapons of mass destruction and create clean, safe drinking water for all. Follow their blog and get involved.
  • Matter of Trust is a non-profit organization focused on materializing sustainable systems by mimicking Mother Nature as well as concentrating on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-educational programs. Learn very simple ways to help the oil spill crisis.
  • The official Facebook page of Unified Command.
  • BP Gulf of Mexico response.