Breaking: New oil rig disaster in Gulf off La.; 2 feared dead, 2 missing


We’re following news reports of a new fatal oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Ironically, this new tragedy occurred just hours after a $4.5 billion criminal fine was imposed on BP for its reckless behavior in the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in 2010. Here’s what we know so far:

WEST COTE BLANCHE, La. — Coast Guard officials say an oil rig fire has been put out after an explosion off the coast of Louisiana that sent four people to hospitals. Two others were believed to be missing. Separately, an official from Jefferson Parish and several media outlets say there are two fatalities.

Coast Guard spokesman Drake Foret said four people were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center near New Orleans.

Coast Guard aircraft and boats are searching for two missing people. 

The rig, a production platform owned by Black Elk Energy, is about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

“The fire is out,” Black Elk Energy spokeswoman Leslie Hoffman said.

“Black Elk people are on the scene gathering information.”

Hoffman was unable to immediately say how many people had been killed or were injured or missing. She did not name the well or say if it was a producing or exploratory rig.

There was no immediate word if any oil had spilled from the platform.

The loss of life, if confirmed, is tragic. Our condolences go out to their family and friends. As for any environmental impacts, there are two hopeful signs that this will not result in a catastrophe like the Deepwater Horizon spill. That’s because a) most importantly, the rig was not currently producing oil and b) the well is in a shallow location, not a mile of water as occurred with BP in 2010. The web site Gizmodo is updating the story here.

We’re going to stay on the story as well, and we’ll have an update later today when more is known.

For an initial AP report on the rig explosion, please check out:,0,951724.story

For the updated Gizmodo report, please read:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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