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2012 November 17, Saturday
Gulf of Mexico - Black Elk Platform

The report came in before 10 am CST Friday Nov 16 -- another explosion at an oil platform in the Gulf, only about 20 nm offshore from Grand Isle, Louisiana. A total of 11 people were flown by helicopter to area hospitals, several of whom were in critical condition. An oil sheen about 200m by 0.5 nm in size was said to be present on Friday, but on today’s flight we did not see significant surface oil in the vicinity.

On Wings Of Care was contacted immediately on Friday and asked to do a flyover. Here are photos and videos taken this morning of the area and the platform on which the explosion occurred, including an unidentified platform discharging smoke a few miles east of the Black Elk platform. The GPS coordinates of the Black Elk platform and a nearby unidentified platform are given at the bottom of this article, and our detailed GPS flight tracks can be downloaded here.

According to the NRC report, the fire and resulting explosion resulted from contractors performing maintenance.  In the course of replacing a skimmer, they used a torch to cut into a 3-inch diameter, 75-foot line coming from a wet oil tank, a line designed to hold about 28 gallons of oil. Apparently the line had not been purged completely before they cut it.

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Read the article and see the photos and videos here!