Workers safe, no oil reported in water after platform catches fire

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by Mike Hoss / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on September 2, 2010 at 10:09 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 2 at 10:13 PM

GULF OF MEXICO -- Shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday, an explosion and fire on an oil-producing platform in the Gulf of Mexico sent the 13 workers on board into their survival suits and into the water.

They were later picked up by a supply vessel and flown to Terrebonne General Hospital in Houma with no serious injuries.

The platform, 80 miles south of Vermillion Bay, is owned by Mariner Energy out of Houston. Company officials aren't sure yet how it all started.

“There appears to have been a fire at the uppermost level of the facility,” said Peter Cassidy, Mariner Energy spokesman. “Because the crew was not able to contain it, they shut in the well and evacuated the facility.”

Despite initial reports of a mile-long oil sheen on the water, the Coast Guard says it could find no oil impact from the fire.

"And Coast Guard helicopters on scene and vessels on scene have no reports of a visible sheen in the water. There's no report of any evidence of leaks, but we continue to investigate and monitor that situation to make sure that doesn't change,” said Capt. Peter Troedsson of the Coast Guard.

“So at this time, it doesn't appear that there's been any hydrocarbon spilled,” Cassidy said.

Mariner Energy says the workers were not involved in any drilling activities on the platform.

“Today they were doing painting and clean-up operations. We didn't have any drilling operations out there; we have seven producing wells,” Cassidy said.

The platform itself sits in 340 feet of water, much shallower than the Deepwater Horizon rig that's 5,000 feet down.

It’s also 200 miles to the west of the Deepwater Horizon site, but the Coast Guard assured Gov. Bobby Jindal the state would have the tools it needed should the situation get worse.

“Admiral Landry reassured us that there are assets still in place from the Deepwater Horizon response that are still available to them, so they feel like they've got any assets that the would need,” Jindal said.

The captain of the boat that rescued the 13 workers says the blast was so sudden, they were able to get into their survival suits, but didn't have time to deploy the lifeboats.

 

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