11 Workers Missing After Offshore Oil Rig Explodes
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Unidentified Man: Take it up back slowly. Prepare to take the load. Okay, we're taking the load. Survivors clear...
(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO TRANSMISSION)
INSKEEP: Eileen Fleming of member station WWNO reports from New Orleans.
EILEEN FLEMING: The accident happened about 40 miles offshore from Venice, Louisiana. The explosion rocked the rig, sending tall sheets of orange flame high into the nighttime sky. Coast Guard Senior Chief Mike O'Berry says it's a difficult operation.
MIKE O: It is a very dramatic fire. There's been some imagery that's come back that's out there, and you can see it's, you know, big plumes of fire smoke. You can actually see it from satellite imagery.
FLEMING: Company Vice President Adrian Rose says it wasn't pumping oil when the accident happened, and they don't know yet what went wrong.
ADRIAN ROSE: The operation on the rig immediately prior to the incident was running and cementing a production casing. This was conducted according to plan with appropriate testing completed and with no indication of any problems.
FLEMING: At a late afternoon news conference in New Orleans, Deputy Secretary David Hayes of the Interior Department said the rig had passed all inspections.
DAVID HAYES: Preliminary information suggests this rig went into service in January of this year, and there have been three inspections already of the rig this year, the latest one being within the month.
FLEMING: Industry analyst Scott Burk of Oppenheimer doesn't expect this explosion to alter the political debate about drilling.
SCOTT BURK: The good thing about being offshore is that it's far enough away that you're not going to be polluting somebody's backyard, or it's not causing any potential danger to a neighborhood or anything like that. So politically, I think the fallout should be relatively contained.
FLEMING: For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming, in New Orleans.
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