Coast Guard says vessel that struck pipeline was out of navigation channel

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 5:15 AM

WWLTV.com
Email: webteam@wwltv.com | Twitter: @WWLTV

LAFITTE, La. - The Coast Guard says the Settoon vessel that struck a Chevron pipeline in Bayou Perot appears to be out of the navigation channel and ran over clearly marked white stakes that indicated the pipeline's presence.

Tanner Stiehl of the United State Coast Guard said he reviewed aerial photos showing the pipeline was marked with signs, stakes and a pipeline sign with an orange light.

Settoon has not responded to requests by WWL-TV for comment.

Stiehl said the incident is still under investigation. Similarly, Chevron spokesperson Gareth Johnstone said "details of the incident are still being discovered, though the pipeline was clearly marked."

Heavy smoke and flames continued to billow into the air Wednesday morning as a large barge burned out of control in Bayou Perot.

Coast Guard officials say the huge fire was sparked when a Settoon tug boat pushing the barge hit a liquified petroleum gas pipeline in the shallow waters of the marsh.

The barge was carrying 2,200 barrels of crude oil, officials said.

A Settoon Towing tug also hit a well head in Bayou Perot in January 2007, which set off a 300,000 gallon oil gusher.

When the Settoon tug hit wellhead in 2007 the captain denied it for 34 days.

The incident occurred around 6 p.m. Tuesday about two miles west of Lafitte in Lafourche Parish.

The pipeline was shut off and officials are waiting for the fire to burn out, which may take some time due to the pressurized gas in the 16-inch wide pipeline, according to the Coast Guard.

A sheen of burned crude oil appeared on the water, and officials are containing it with boom to reduce pollution.

All four people on the tug boat were accounted for and were first taken to West Jefferson Hospital.

The captain reportedly suffered second to third degree burns and was transferred to the burn unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital in critical condition.

Another man was treated for injuries after he was knocked off the tugboat.

There have been similar incidents in the same area before with thousands of wellheads between Lafitte and Grand Isle. In December 2010, a rig in Bayou Perot exploded while workers were doing a welding work job. Three men were treated for burns.

Stay with Eyewitness News for continuing coverage of this fire. More updates will appear on Channel 4 newscasts, WWLTV.com and WWLTV's Facebook and Twitter pages.

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