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Workers escape gas leak, fire on rig off Louisiana coast

On Tuesday night, a natural gas leak and fire erupted on a natural gas rig off the coast of Louisiana. According to reports from yesterday, none of the 44 workers on the rig were injured in the maritime accident, likely because they were evacuated from the rig before the fire started around 10:45 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard and firefighters were on hand as the fire on the rig continued burn throughout Wednesday. Precautionary steps were taken to prevent ocean vessels and aircraft from getting too close to the scene. This was the same area that experienced the devastating BP oil spill in 2010.

Officials predict that this accident will not be nearly as damaging as the 2010 oil spill, which left 11 workers dead and resulted in millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf. Following this week's accident, workers were able to escape quickly using "life capsules" located on the rig. They were then picked up by a supply boat.

Workers are now being interviewed in effort to determine the cause of the gas leak and subsequent fire. According to a statement from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the workers "experienced a loss of control" on Tuesday morning, and soon after, a cloud of natural gas was observed above the rig as well as a light sheen in the water surrounding the rig.

Thankfully, it appears that sufficient emergency response plans were in place so that the workers were able to escape the rig safely. If the rig had not been equipped with life capsules, it is likely that workers could have been injured or killed. All too often, employers cut corners when it comes to safety, and accidents like this one claim innocent lives.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Natural gas rig blows out, is on fire off Louisiana coast," Molly Hennessy-Fiske, July 24, 2013

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