One missing, seven injured in Louisiana platform fire

Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans

A Texas man remains missing and seven others were injured after an explosion and fire on a Lake Pontchartrain oil and gas platform near Kenner, Louisiana, on Sunday night.

The US Coast Guard searched for Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas, before suspending the operation on Monday at 1915.

“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” said Cmdr Zac Ford. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the Morrison family and all those affected by this incident.”

The fire on the platform operated by the Clovelly Oil Co burned through the weekend before it was extinguished on Monday morning.

Company officials said three oil wells into the platform had been shut-in before conducting routine maintenance on the platform.

One active gas well was shut-in after the fire erupted shortly after 1930 on Sunday.

Three Clovelly employees were injured along with four workers with two contractors who were working on the platform, Clovelly officials said.

“Three employees of Clovelly were injured, along with four employees of two contractors who were working on the platform at the time of the incident,” read a Clovelly statement.“All seven have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. In addition, another contractor employee is missing.

“The fire has not been extinguished, although Clovelly is working with local authorities to ensure the fire is contained. The platform’s three oil wells were shut-in at the time of the incident and remain shut-in. Its one gas well was flowing, but was successfully shut-in shortly after the explosion.

“Clovelly does not know if any oil was discharged into the lake. The cause of the explosion and fire is unknown. At the time of the incident, routine maintenance was being conducted on the platform.

“Clovelly’s top priorities are: To protect the safety of all responders and workers on the scene, to locate the missing employee, to render medical care to the injured employees of Clovelly and its contractors and to minimize any impact on the public and to the environment.

“Clovelly has activated its emergency response plan, mobilising equipment and personnel to assess and address the incident and has notified all appropriate state and federal agencies.

“Pollution and salvage experts are currently en route to the scene.”

The Louisiana State Police HAZMAT Division is investigating the cause of the explosion.

Coast Guard pilots reported no visible signs of pollution.

The Kenner platform is one remnant of the oil industry on Lake Pontchartrain, where Louisiana officials imposed a moratorium on drilling new wells in 1991 and renewed it a decade later, to reduce pollution risks.

Clovelly owns a majority stake in seven active wells remaining in the lake.

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