6/22/2018 2:41:16 PM

Second oil platform explodes in Gulf of Mexico

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — An oil platform explosion Thursday 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."

An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed out of a deepwater well that ruptured after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20 off the coast of Louisiana.

The explosion killed 11 workers and it took nearly three months to stem the flow of oil gushing out of the well some 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface.

"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."

Lafayette, Louisiana
13 workers from an offshore oil Q size l
13 workers from an offshore oil platform that caught fire wait for rescue after they jumped to the sea

Second oil platform explodes in Gulf of MexicoSecond oil platform explodes in Gulf of Mexico

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