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Investigators Probe Gulf Oil Platform Fire

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Investigators Probe Gulf Oil Platform Fire

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Investigators Probe Gulf Oil Platform Fire

Investigators Probe Gulf Oil Platform Fire

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Investigators still don't know what caused an oil platform to catch fire Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. All 13 crew members were rescued. It was an eerie reminder of the BP oil well explosion that gushed crude into the Gulf for more than three months.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Investigators do not know yet what caused an oil platform to catch fire yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico. It happened off the Louisiana coast. All 13 crew members were rescued. But this was still an eerie reminder of the BP oil well explosion that gushed crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for more than three months. Here's NPR's Kathy Lohr.

KATHY LOHR: Houston-based Mariner Energy owns the oil platform that exploded in 340 feet of water, considered a shallow water operation. It's about 100 miles south of Vermilion Bay, Louisiana. This accident was not related to drilling but to the production of oil and gas. A mile-long oil sheen was originally reported, but Coast Guard Captain Peter Troedsson says now there are no signs of oil.�

Captain PETER TROEDSSON (United States Coast Guard): And what I can tell you now is that the boats and the aircraft on scene cannot see a sheen. So we remain obviously ready to respond if one sheen, or any sheen, becomes visible.

LOHR: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says there were seven active wells at the platform but he says none are leaking.

Governor BOBBY JINDAL (Louisiana): Senior officials with the company have told us that it's shut in. But again, until we independently verify that, we're going to continue to be cautious.�

LOHR: According to federal government records, Mariner has been involved in at least 13 incidents since 2006 and paid $55,000 in fines in the past year.�

A deepwater drilling moratorium is in effect until November 30th. Oil companies and the state of Louisiana have been asking the Obama administration to end the moratorium early. But many activists, including Mike Gravitz with Environment America, say the latest incident is new evidence that offshore drilling is dangerous.�

Mr. MIKE GRAVITZ (Environment America): It's proof that whether we're drilling in shallow water, which this was, or in deep water, for gas or for oil, it's a business which is often dirty and unfortunately too often risky.�

LOHR: Many environmental groups are calling for more regulation and new safety rules. The industry says that will kill it and eliminate thousands of jobs. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says he doesn't know whether this latest incident will affect the Obama administration's decision about the drilling moratorium.

Kathy Lohr, NPR News.

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