Fire fight and search continue after platform explosion in Lake Pontchartrain

Sheriff says no apparent significant environmental impact

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
October 16, 2017 - 7:02 am

Five people are critically hurt and two more stable after a platform blew up Sunday night in Lake Pontchartrain.

An eighth person may be missing.

"The Coast Guard is coordinating search efforts for a missing man after an explosion on an oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain near Kenner, Louisiana," the Guard said in a news release.  "Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report from a witness at approximately 8 p.m. of an oil platform explosion."

The Jefferson Parish fire department said they were working with subcontractors cleaning the platform to determine if there was indeed another victim unaccounted for.  Until they could be sure, they are continuing the search.

"It was reported by one of the platform workers that eight people were aboard at the time of the explosion, and one person did not make it to shore," according to the news release.

Fire Chief Dave Tibbits says, "We are just trying to get our accountability together at this point."

He added that they would let the material on the platform burn out.

The Coast Guard says a number of assets and agencies have been responding.

"Sector New Orleans launched a Coast Guard Station New Orleans 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew, a Station New Orleans 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew, and a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter air crew. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Jefferson County Parish, and St. Charles Parish also have marine units on scene. Bayou Gauche Fire Department and a good Samaritan vessel are on scene fighting the fire, which has been reduced substantially."

Initial reports indicate cleaning materials caught fire, leading to the explosion.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lapinto says it appears any environmental impact is limited at this point.

"It is not an oil rig, it is a gas rig," he explained. "Although there is residual oil that is produced in the production of gas; it is not an active, flowing oil line like in the Deepwater Horizon." 

Natural gas is all expected to either burn off or dissipate in the air.




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