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Death Toll Rises From Black Elk Oil Rig Explosion

Last week on November 16, the Black Elk Energy Rig had a major explosion that killed one man immediately and left 12 others with minor to severe injuries, and one is still missing. Avelino Tajonera, 49, was one of these men that were in critical condition after the oil rig explosion, and just this morning he was pronounced dead by the New Orleans hospital. Tajonera and his fellow workers were on the West Delta Block 32 platform welding pipes on the deck when the fire started, leading to the horrific explosion.

Many of the victims were caught in the flames, and though most made it out, Tajonera was not as fortunate. The injuries would not heal, and they eventually claimed his life. It is fortunate however, that his family was able to make it down from Manila on time before he passed away; his wife and three children were able to spend a few last moments with their beloved father and husband.

As with most oil rig explosions, there is a cause behind the incident. In this case, the fault points back to the Black Elk Energy company who repeatedly failed to comply with the U.S. regulators to make safety repairs to their oil rigs. According to various reports, the Black Elk in the past three years has received hundreds of letters of citations for failing to comply with the demanded improvements on the rigs.

While many of the citations were minor, there were 12 citations that were so severe that it leads to the rigs closing because of the potential harm to both the workers and the environment. They failed to comply yet again, because when the explosion occurred last week, none of the corrections were made. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement ordered them another improvements letter just this week, demanding that they follow their orders.

At this time, the Bureau is investigating the Black Elk after the explosion, claiming that as the company has failed time and time again to comply with their regulations, steps need to be taken in response. This isn’t the first time that workers have been injured while on the Black Elk rigs. In 2011, 6 of their employees were sent to the hospital for injures after being exposed to an acid chemical that they were using for well cleaning.

With this explosion happening so soon after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010, many families and businesses on the Louisiana coast are being reminded of the tragedy they already lived through once. Unfortunately with oil rig explosions, not only the employees are placed at risk. Those who are exposed to the chemicals from the oil and the explosion are in possible danger as well. This is why Arnold & Itkin is committed to coming alongside those who are near the oil rigs and are possible victims of injuries or illnesses. Don’t wait another moment to call a trusted oil rig explosion lawyer at our firm; we want to fight for you! Contact us today for more information!

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