Oil Platform Explosion Sends Shock Waves Through Gulf on Heels of BP Criminal Settlement

Eco Watch / News Report
Published: Sunday 18 November 2012
“News reports stated the oil platform was not actively producing oil and that a welder involved in a maintenance operation may have caused the accident.”
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An oil platform explosion and fire yesterday near the site of the nation’s greatest offshore oil spill in history—BP’s Deepwater Horizon—sent shivers up the spines of many Gulf residents as the U.S. Coast Guard reported that 11 crew members were flown to area hospitals and two crew members were still missing as of Friday evening. News reports said four workers were critically injured with burns.

A Coast Guard spokesman said the oil and gas platform was 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, LA, and was owned by Black Elk Energy, a fast-growing oil and gas drilling operation based in Houston. News reports stated the oil platform was not actively producing oil and that a welder involved in a maintenance operation may have caused the accident. Although there were reports of an oil sheen near the platform, there were no reports of a major oil leak.

NRDC President Frances Beinecke, a member of the presidential national oil commission that investigated the BP oil disaster, issued this statement:

“Though the BP criminal case is settled, today’s accident makes clear that the hazards of oil and gas drilling are not in America’s rear view.  It is a sad reminder that offshore drilling is an inherently dangerous business. Workers and communities are put in harm’s way every day and will continue to be as long as we prioritize this risky energy development. Our leaders must keep that squarely in mind when considering where and how to allow further drilling along our coasts and in our communities.”

The Black Elk Energy accident came the day after the U.S. Justice Department announced a criminal settlement with BP involving a record-setting $4.5 billion in fines, indicting three company officials on criminal charges. Civil penalties against BP are still pending.

Many people in the Gulf are still recovering from the BP oil disaster that residents say continues to impact their fisheries and beaches more than two years later. Grand Isle mayor David Camardelle, whose community has been one of the hardest hit by the oil disaster, said he was saddened to learn of the latest offshore oil rig fire and injuries to workers. “It’s a tragic accident and my sympathies go out to the families of the workers who were impacted. But thankfully it appears this is not another BP disaster.”

Camardelle said his community still has oil and tar balls on its beaches after storms, especially after Hurricane Isaac hit their area last August. And he said many fishermen are suffering from reduced catches and have not been adequately compensated by BP for their losses. “We feel like we’re forgotten sometimes,” he said. “We can put robots on Mars, but we can’t tell how much BP oil is still out in the Gulf. Something’s wrong with that.”

Kindra Arnesen, wife of a fisherman in Buras, LA, said she too was saddened by the accident, which she says hits close to home since so many of her friends and neighbors work in the oil industry. “My heart goes out to those families,” she said. “This may have been a fluke accident, but it makes me wonder, what really has changed in the oil industry since the BP explosion? We’re still using the same blowout preventers, so it seems like we should be doing something better.”

That point was made in a blog this summer by NRDC’s David Pettit, part of a coalition of conservation groups that filed a lawsuit to push for greater drilling safety in the Gulf. He reminded people that many questions raised by the presidential commission still remain unanswered:

Their investigation uncovered serious flaws in oil industry and regulatory practices. These accidents-waiting-to-happen remain unaddressed, with the Gulf’s battered ecosystems and vital billion-dollar tourism and fisheries hanging in the balance. If drilling is to continue, more must be done to improve drilling safety and safeguard our natural resources. The largest oil spill in America’s history should have been a wakeup call. If we refuse to learn from that mistake, it will become a recurring nightmare instead.

That’s a nightmare no one wants to live through again.



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3 comments on "Oil Platform Explosion Sends Shock Waves Through Gulf on Heels of BP Criminal Settlement"

Pikewich

November 19, 2012 1:46pm

I can not understand how the event in the gulf 2 years ago is still called a "spill". Calling it a "spill" sets a context that is based in serious inaccuracy. It seriously undermines the significance and ability to address the conversation as it should be.

A "spill" happens when a known quantity of a substance escapes a container of known size.

What we had was a "BLOW OUT" which "blowout preventers" failed to stop. An unknown HUGE volume of crude oil was blasted into gulf waters doing unknown and immeasurable damage which will continue to have devastating effects for decades.

Call it what it is, a BLOW OUT. How many more BLOW OUTS can we survive?

Lark

November 18, 2012 5:32pm

Lady Penelope is right.

I live in New Orleans but get about South Louisiana a lot. The BP spill did horrific environmental harm to our marine life; It's only starting to show up in scary ways and is getting worse! The crude got in to the bottom of the food chain and has been moving up it, concentrating oil in bigger fish.

I see refrigerated trucks from the Cheasapeake rolling into town to supply our restaurants. Expensive fish, and very telling about what's coming out of local waters.

The amount of tar that washed up in the last hurricane wash shocking. I worry about massive fish kills in the next few years. Heartbreaking to anyone who's ever sailed offshore and camped on barrier islands as many locals do.

ladypenelope

November 18, 2012 11:57am

Okay, now that only a couple of insignificant supervisors have been criminally indicted as of Nov 15th while BP (the international corporation) has not even received a slap on the hand in this huge criminal settlement from the original disaster in the Gulf. "not even a slap on the hand = BP stock price going up, even after the fine was issued on BP last week" NOT EVEN ONE EXEC OR CEO was even considered being brought up and convicted of murdering those BP employees that were killed while carrying out their job descriptions on the rigs during the BP explosions and leaks due to safety standards being compromised even when there had been numerous safety flaws sited at multiple rigs, over many years prior to the Gulf disaster caused by BP on April 20, 2010. Until major corporate heads are criminally indicted and have to physically serve jail time like any other criminal, these corporate profit grabbing decision making methods will be continued at the expense of the employees, human beings in the surrounding areas, the local environment and most importantly the safety of our planet and its resources!! Ok, the whisper warning was missed, now there is someone SCREAMING to prosecute someone or everyone at the highest executive levels of financial decisions and safety decisions being made at both BP and Haliburton (they must be involved in some way)!! There I have said my peace. UNTIL CORP DECISION MAKERS, rather than the employees (supervisors and peons) carrying out those executive decisions being put forth by BP, ARE CRIMINALLY SENTENCED FOR THEIR LACK OF RESPECT FOR THE SAFETY OF THEIR EMPLOYEES and the environment JUST SO THAT THE BOTTOM LINE of BP will look good for its shareholders, we as a free market economy are in for a bumpy ride because our planet is being STOLEN from us, the economy of the people, and the people and their coastal environment, who live on the Gulf coast area have been devastated since April 20, 2010!! It appears that as of November 16, 2012 the cycle continues...STOP the CORPORATE GIANTS in the oil industry and their money-grabbing at our safety and economic expense now!!!!!