In recent reports, investigators have called the explosion that riddled a Black Elk Energy oil platform on Friday, November 16 "very serious." This incident is now being referred to as the "West Delta 32 fire."
The managing director of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said, "The fact that people are reported to be fatally injured or missing, the fact that a number of folks are hospitalized, the fact that it involves, as reported, a maintenance procedure on a platform with hazardous materials present—all of those speak to the seriousness of the incident."
The Chemical Safety Board investigates industrial incidents involving maintenance at refineries, chemical plants and oil production sites. The board investigated the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 that killed 11 offshore workers.
The owner of Black Elk Energy was recently subpoenaed and authorities will be checking to see if the company's safety and environmental management records complied with federal regulations. Last Thursday, BP, the company behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, agreed to pay a $4.5 billion fine, the largest criminal fine in U.S. history for the deaths of its crew members on board the Deepwater Horizon. Could Black Elk Energy be in similar trouble?
The managing director of the Chemical Safety Board said, "Certainly we'll look for any similarities or commonalities with what we understand are the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident, but we're far away from any such determination right now."
Representative Edward Markey (Mass.), a senior Democrat and frequent critic of oil companies said in a statement, "This incident raises a number of questions about the nature and adequacy of safety measures on this offshore rig, and I will be asking Black Elk, the Department of Interior and the Coast Guard for full reports on this latest tragedy."
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