Oil sheen spreading from Gulf platform explosion

By ALAN SAYRE, The Associated Press

 NEW ORLEANS, La. — A mile-long oil sheen spread Thursday from an offshore petroleum platform burning in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana, west of the site of BP’s massive spill.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Coklough said the sheen, about 100 feet wide, was spotted near the platform owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy Inc.

He said Mariner had deployed three firefighting vessels to the site and one already was in place fighting the blaze.

The Coast Guard says no one was killed in the explosion and fire, which was reported by a commercial helicopter flying over the site around 9 a.m. CDT. All 13 people aboard the rig were rescued as they floated in the nearby water in survival outfits called gumby suits.

The platform is in about 340 feet of water and about 100 miles south of Vermilion Bay on the central Louisiana coast. Its location is considered shallow water, much less than the approximately 5,000 feet where BP’s well spewed oil and gas for three months after an April rig explosion.

full article found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/02/AR2010090202590.html?wpisrc=nl_natlalert

Our Take:
Looks like we dodged a bullet here—no deaths, and no huge release of oil into the marine environment. If we can’t count on oil rigs maintaining a high safety standard now, then we never will be able to.

What a shame we can’t think of the BP Deep Horizons oil rig disaster as an isolated event. Instead, it is part of a pattern of accidents that result in deaths and injuries. U.S. Steel Workers complained in April that Deep Horizons was actually the fourth oil facility fire that produced injuries with as many weeks. Since that time, including today’s disaster, two other major oil facility fires have irrupted.

Not only is oil extraction dirty and getting dirtier—it is also dangerous and getting even more so, as petroleum companies seek farther afield in more and more challenging environments, to capture more oil.

What if America truly decided to kick the oil habit and set a goal of replacing enough gallons of gasoline with ethanol and biodiesel so that offshore drilling – shallow or deep – would become a redundant waste of time and money, not to mention an unnecessary risk of human life and health.

America has just begun tapping into its capacity to create biomass-based energy.  Through the use of all the feedstock resources – grain-based, ag-waste-based and energy-crop derived biofuels – America could more than replace the gallons needed to assure that no more offshore rigs need risk lives. The question we should ask is whether it is acceptable to lose lives, just so that we drivers can get our sedans, wagons and pickups from point A to point B.


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