West Delta 32 Explosion: 1 Dead, Other Facts Remain Unclear
The smoke from the West Delta 32 platform fire has cleared, but the facts surrounding the accident remain cloudy. Last week, a fire broke out on the inoperative oil platform, leaving several workers injured and two missing. Initial reports from the Coast Guard and news articles indicated that that anywhere from four to 11 workers were injured in the explosion and that two others were not accounted for. Although some of the details surrounding the accident have been uncovered, the incident is still surrounded by a great deal of controversy. For example, one news source claims that 22 people were onboard the platform when the explosion occurred while another source claims that the Coast Guard said that the number of workers on the platform totaled 24.
The cause of the explosion remains a mystery as well. Some claim that the accident was caused by construction work on the platform, while others believe that it is too soon make any judgments regarding the cause of the fire. Shortly before the explosion, authorities believe that workers were using a torch to cut into an oil line on the platform. However, the CEO of Grand Isle Shipyard said that "initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate." Grand Istle Shipyard employed 14 of the workers onboard West Delta 32. The CEO went on to say that using a torch to cut into a gas line on the platform would have violated safety standards – even if the workers did use a torch to cut the line.
Although many of the particulars remain unknown, one fact is sure: at least one of the missing workers is dead. A diver with Black Elk Energy (the owner of West Delta 32) found the body of one missing worker underneath the platform yesterday. Of the injured workers at least two remain in critical condition. According to news articles, all of the workers aboard the ship were Filipino. One of the workers said, "I am burned, but my heart and lungs are healthy." One of the victims suffered burns to 35% of his body and according to the Baton Rouge Hospital, who of the men "remain in the critical window of time that follows major burn injuries, but our physicians and staff remain hopeful about their prognosis." According to CNN, the explosion may have released about 28 gallons of oil into the water. Other sources estimate that as much as 15 barrels of oil could have spilled into the ocean. Even 15 barrels of oil is considered a small spill and not likely to damage the environment.