˜Safe offshore oil rig explodes, 12 missing, seven critically hurt

The dangers of the fossil fuel industry have sadly come into focus again, after an “explosion and fire on an offshore drilling platform” off the coast of Louisiana left “least 12 people missing and seven critically injured.”  Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has the story in this repost.

The explosion on the rig Deepwater Horizon occurred at about 10 PM Tuesday, about 52 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana’s tip. The rig is still “burning pretty good and there’s no estimate on when the fire will be put out,” a Coast Guard official said. The rig is leased by BP Exploration & Production from Transocean, a Houston-based company.

Offshore drilling advocates from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-VA) have repeatedly promoted the false notion that the practice is safe “” for its workers and for the environment. The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was a particular booster:

This disaster comes on the heels of the Massey Energy coal mine explosion that took 29 miners’ lives on April 5, and the Tesoro oil refinery explosion in Anacortes, WA, that killed six workers on April 2. It is a tragic fact that fossil fuel extraction in America is not “safe.”

13 Responses to ˜Safe offshore oil rig explodes, 12 missing, seven critically hurt

  1. mike roddy says:

    Fossil fuel and timber companies don’t give a damn about their workers, who die at a higher rate than almost all other occupations. The workers’ function is to make them money, and then turn on Fox when they get home so they can be persuaded to vote for the Republican politicians they have purchased in the name of “freedom”.

    This is the dark side we are talking about here, since these people also don’t give a damn about their own children. We beat them back for a while after the first Earth Day (when I marched). Environmental NGO’s need to kick them out of their meeting rooms, and return to following their hearts, if they (and the Democrats) can still find them.

  2. Mark says:

    Three other people were killed in mining accidents in the US this year.
    1 person died at Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain mine in Montana.
    1 person died at Bledsoe Coal’s Abner Branch Rider mine in Minnesota.
    1 person died at M Class Mining’s MC #1 mine in Illinois. This fatality occurred on April 11th.

    32 so far this year.

  3. Chris Dudley says:

    This is a very modern drilling rig that taps into very deep oil. The accident suggests that oil exploration is going to become more dangerous, not less, since the lessons learned won’t keep up with the ever increasing challenges now that all the easy oil has been tapped. President Obama’s drilling policy sounds more and more like a death sentence for oil workers. Since the MSHA didn’t close any mines with its inspections this weekend, we can expect the President to end the year with the highest percentage annual increase in coal mining fatalities of any president ever. The pro extraction policies of this administration are a travesty.

  4. Brikov Pavlov says:

    Does this rank as high as death by Malaria?
    Banning DDT has called for the death of millions. We know better. (some of us)

  5. Andy says:

    Well, I have to disagree about the concern these companies have for the safety of their employees. The most recent safety checks of this rig resulted in good reports (NPR this morning); unlike the coal mine involved in the recent disaster. The rig was drilling deep (deep in the sediment, not necessarily in deep water) which means very high pressures and increased danger from blowouts. So yes, future work in the Gulf is likely to be more dangerous.

    As far as oil spills go, the biggest of all time was IXTOC, drilled in Mexican waters with American $$$ that spewed for months while the well’s backers argued over who should pay to have it capped. The oil from that spill still ends up on Texas’ beaches as tar balls. We know this by “fingerprinting” the oil and comparing it to known samples from various spills. That was more recent than the famous Santa Barbara blow out, but still occurred something like 30 years ago.

    Can a producing well blow out today? Likely in my opinion given the # of wells drilled and the depths and pressures of the producing strata.

  6. James Newberry says:

    Our “energy system” is one built on pervasive fraud of using explosive materials rather than true energy resources. If mufflers were removed from vehicles we would hear transport by explosions. Now we have yet another weekly tragedy from fossil-carbon mining.

    The president continues this travesty by promoting “clean” methane, coal and atomic fission (uranium mining) along with off-shore oil. The president does not seem to realize we already have off-shore oil (from the gulf and overseas) and extracted materials are not true “energy resources”. This is economics as scientific and fiscal fraud.

    The idea of clean, sustainable energy involves ending environmental contamination and degradation of public health by ending our dependence on mining-as-energy. Based on the administration’s oversized rhetoric and undersized policies for ending massive direct, indirect and externalized fuel subsidies, they seem not to understand a fundamental of Earth Day. Furthermore, the idea of safe burning of mined hydrocarbons is a perversity that includes submerging global coastlines and seaports, leading to impoverishment.

  7. homunq says:

    Ah, the old malaria lie. DDT was never banned for anti-malaria use. We didn’t slather Africa with DDT because it wouldn’t have worked; it would have killed key pollinators, mosquito-eating birds, and other useful species; and the mosquitoes themselves would have quickly evolved resistance.

    Not that that has anything to do with the subject at hand.

  8. Chris Dudley says:

    The rig just sank after taking on water from the firefighting effort. The Earth Day timing is a little like the Tower of Babel considering that it was working in 5000 feet of water.

  9. Mike #22 says:

    Reports are that 8,000 barrels of oil per day were being produced before the (likely) blowout. The Valdez spill was 250,000 barrels.

    It appears possible that over the next thirty days, this thing leaks (at least) 240,000 barrels, if they don’t get it shut off at the ocean floor, which needs the valves down there to be intact after the pipe got broke off by the sinking rig, and assuming that the submersibles can work in close to something leaking that much oil.

    If there is a lot of pressure, a lot more than 8,000 barrels a day might be pouring out right now.

    This has the potential to be a major bummer.

  10. Leif says:

    Happy Earth Day All :<(

  11. Mike #22 says:

    (these people appear to know what is going on right now)

    “Can confirm that the Discoverer Enterprise has been pulled off it’s current job and is heading over to do a side track on the well that DWH was working when the incident occurred. It’s become apparent the tree is wrecked and going in via side track has been decided as the method chosen to plug the well. Enterprise is the right ship for the job . . . it is a drilling beast.”

  12. Andy says:

    I stated “Can a producing well blow out today?” Should have said “Can a drill operation blow out today?” I still think the answer is likely. The industry has come a long way, but given as this incident has shown, it is not a risk free enterprise.

    The well appears to not be leaking at this time. I guess the blow out protector was successfully engaged? Good news there. Now if they can empty the rig’s fuel tanks before they leak.

  13. Joshua says:

    The environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinking into the Gulf of Mexico will be felt for years to come.

    As it sunk, the rig began spilling tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the water per hour. Nearly a half-million gallons have already spilled and the toll could be worse than that of the Valdez accident.

    Fears are that oil from the well on the sea floor will begin making its way to the surface. Just 41 miles from the coast, the rig is situated so that this incident has brought a lot of business to a halt on the seas, and for those who depend on the Gulf along the shores.

    And clearly, the impact of sea life in the Gulf is immediate and could be felt for years. Those waters serve as home to numerous fish species and shellfish like shrimp, mussels and oysters we find at markets. Not only is it next to impossible to farm these animals under such conditions, the water quality is sure to be jeopardized by the massive oil spill.

    Please read this site for more information on the environmental and economic damages this explosion, fire and spill have caused: