Interior to probe deadly Gulf oil platform fire

The Interior Department has begun probing the explosion and fire on a Gulf of Mexico oil production platform Friday that killed one worker, while another remains missing.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search Saturday evening after more than 32 hours, the agency announced. 

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But Black Elk Energy, which owns the platform located about 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, is continuing to look for the second missing worker, according to press accounts. Divers hired by the company found the body of one of the two missing platform crew members Saturday.

“Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker,” Black Elk Energy CEO John Hoffman wrote in an email to the Associated Press and other outlets. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”

Four workers who were severely burned remained hospitalized Saturday night, AP reports. 

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has established a team to probe the accident on the platform, which according to Black Elk Energy had not been producing oil since August.

“The seven-member investigative team includes safety inspectors, engineers, safety management investigators, and law enforcement experts; additional team members may be added as required,” the Bureau said.

The announcement added:

Witnesses will be interviewed, and documents containing the work procedures for the construction project will be reviewed. Inspection of the physical site began shortly after the explosion and will continue with collection of evidence from the platform throughout the investigation. Analysis of the information gathered will be focused on the direct and indirect causes of the incident. The investigation report will also include recommendations for initiatives to prevent a similar accident in the future.

Black Elk Energy said Saturday that there is no visible oil sheen in the platform’s vicinity.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an independent agency that probes industrial accidents, is also looking into the accident, The Houston Chronicle reports.

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