Issue Date: December 3, 2012
Government Probes Fatal Oil Rig Fire
The Department of the Interior announced on Nov. 21 that it will begin a detailed investigation of the Black Elk Energy offshore oil rig fire and explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed three workers and hospitalized nine. The Nov. 16 accident occurred during maintenance of a shut-down oil and gas production platform, located 18 miles offshore from Grand Isle, La. In the past two years, DOI’s Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement has assessed the company with some 300 violations, 12 of which were ranked severe and resulted in a platform shutdown to correct problems. The bureau, which is investigating the accident, ordered the company not to restart the rig until a host of requirements are met, including a third-party safety system audit. Hot work is suspected to be the cause of the fire, which resulted in little environmental damage. The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board issued subpoenas to Black Elk and a company doing maintenance on the rig but has not decided whether to conduct an investigation.
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