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|January 18, 2021|
Deadly Gulf rig fire precipitates oil spill
NEW ORLEANS, LA--The search for 11 workers missing after an oil rig explosion was called off Friday as two drilling companies and the federal government marshal resources to contain leaking oil after the burning rig sank Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico, creating what an industry official said "has the potential to be a major spill."
Hope for survivors dimmed as some of the 115 rescued crew members said the missing workers may have been near the Tuesday night explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig about 45 miles southeast of the Mississippi River's mouth, said Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the Coast Guard's 8th District.
With a water temperature of 67 degrees, the probability of finding survivors had diminished to almost zero, Landry said.
2,000 square miles searched
Coast Guard rescue crews had searched a nearly 2,000-square-mile area more than a dozen times by air and at least six times by boat. A damaged life capsule from the rig was found Thursday, but no one was inside.
Nine of the missing workers are Transocean employees; the other two are contractors.
After a second explosion Thursday, the still-burning rig sank, finally extinguishing a fire that had raged for 36 hours after the initial blast.
The blaze had been fueled by an estimated 13,000 gallons of sweet crude oil leaking from the damaged rig. Most of the oil burned in the fire, but with the blaze extinguished, concerns grew that a significant amount of oil could be leaking into the water.
"It certainly has the potential to be a major spill," said David Rainey, a vice president for BP, which leased the rig from Transocean, a Swiss firm with offices in Houston.
Several planes were on standby to drop dispersants on the spill if necessary.
A remote-operated vehicle was deployed to try to determine the exact location of the submerged rig and whether oil was still leaking from the well, nearly a mile below the water's surface. (Source: nola.com)
Story Date: April 24, 2010