OSHA joins investigation into Lake Pontchartrain oil platform explosion

Oil rig explodes in Kenner  Courtesy Roger Fernandez

Officials from the St. Charles Parish wrote on Facebook that "The Emergency Operations Center is aware that an oil platform is now on fire in Lake Pontchartrain and that it caused the loud sound earlier tonight".

The platform serves three oil wells and one natural gas well, and Clovelly says the workers were there Sunday night using steam to clean paraffin, a waxy and potentially flammable substance, from the oil flow lines feeding it.

Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni said nearby residents heard a loud sonic boom, but no structural damage has been reported.

Rescue boats were sent from the Kenner Boat Launch, and first responders from St. Charles Parish, Jefferson Parish, Kenner, the U.S. Coast Guard, East Jefferson General Hospital EMS and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries were working on the explosion.

"The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one", said Cmdr.

The missing person was identified as Timothy Morrison of Katy, Texas.

As of Monday, three workers remained in hospital in a critical condition while the remaining four workers who had been accounted for had been discharged.

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According to the oil company, three of the injured workers are company employees.

According to Michael Guillot, director of East Jefferson Emergency Medical Services, five people were initially taken to a trauma center and were listed in critical condition with "blast type injuries and burns".

Harris said, the Coast Guard as well as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation will be conducting a water quality evaluation.

The Kenner government Facebook page said authorities on the scene reported that cleaning chemicals had ignited on the structure, but the company said the cause of the blast was unknown.

Lopinto told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that cleaning operations were taking place when the explosion occurred. The platform is not used for drilling, but rather to store oil until it's shipped to land, WWL also said.

Authorities acknowledged there was a possibility that the fire meant oil could be leaking into the lake, but noted that Jefferson Parish drinking water will remain safe because it is pulled from the Mississippi River.

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