GRAND ISLE, La. (WVLA) — According to the U.S. Coast Guard, an oil gas platform owned by Black Elk Energy exploded and caught fire around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, November 16. The Coast Guard confirms the fire was extinguished roughly one hour after the explosion.
The production platform is located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle. We’re told a total of 22 people were working on the platform at the time of the explosion. Eleven were transported for medical treatment at various hospitals. We're told four are being transported from the West Jefferson Hospital to the Baton Rouge General Burn Center.
The search continues at this time for 2 more workers, who may have gone overboard.
“Our primary concern is looking for the two people who are missing and to contain the pollution,” Capt. Peter Gautier, Coast Guard, said.
The Coast Guard confirms that there were 28 gallons of product located on the rig. Right now, a sheen that is less than two miles long has been spotted. Capt. Gautier believes this will not lead to a major environmental disaster.
Initial reports indicate that the explosion happened when maintenance workers used a torch to cut into a pipe with oil inside.
Black Elk Energy’s headquarters is located in Houston, Texas. NBC National News reports that Black Elk was investigated last August by the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulations and Enforcement for an incident in which two employees were dropped 60 feed into the Gulf of Mexico waters due to a crane malfunction. No one was seriously injured.
They also report that Black Elk paid a $300,000 civil fine in September, related to a site inspection in 2011 of one of its facilities. The fine was related to regulations compliance.
The incident comes one day after the Justice Department announced that BP oil company will plead guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The London-based oil giant has agreed to pay $4.5 billion in government penalties.