Rig Explosion Poses Little Environmental Threat

Commercial vessels extinguish a platform fire on board West Delta 32 approximately 20 miles offshore Grand Isle, La., in the Gulf of Mexico. First responders medevaced nine of the platform's 22 personnel to nearby rigs. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
As the Coast Guard responds to the oil platform explosion off the coast of Louisiana — they've noticed a sheen on the surface of the water. Officials say there's not much cause for concern about a possible oil spill.

The oil platform, located about 25 miles southeast of Grand Aisle, Louisiana, exploded around nine o'clock this morning. Coast Guard boats and helicoptors responded out of the New Orleans office.

Commanding Officer Capt. Peter Gautier says crews noticed a sheen on the water around the platform.

"But it's important to note this platform was not in active operation at the time. It was not producing oil, it was not pumping oil from the sea floor at the time. So this is not going to be a major environmental issue that we're going to have to deal with."

Gautier says the potential cause of the explosion was from maintenance on board.
He says initial reports indicate an employee may have accidentally cut a pipe which released some oil and caused a fire, leading to the explosion.

"This is a very different incident than the Deepwater Horizon disaster and we do not face that kind of level of environmental threat."

There were 22 people on board the platform when the explosion took place.  

The accident comes one day after BP agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion settlement for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed eleven people.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...