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Black Elk Explosion Update: Another Worker Has Died

The Philippines Embassy confirmed this week that another worker died as a result of last week’s explosion on a Black Elk Energy oil platform. This death brings the confirmed fatality count to two while a third worker remains missing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

All of the workers involved in the explosion were Filipino men – apparently employed a contracting company that was working on the Black Elk platform. Like many oil and gas accidents, this explosion apparently occurred unexpectedly during routine maintenance work.

The federal government has already subpoenaed more information from Black Elk Energy as part of its investigation into what went wrong. While the company has several more days to submit various documents, initial reports indicate that the contractors were cutting into a portion of the platform. Sparks from their equipment somehow ignited a nearby storage tank, causing an explosion.

In total, 11 workers required hospital treatment. Three Filipino men remain in a nearby hospital with severe burn wounds.

This explosion is another reminder that no routine activity is truly safe for oil and gas employees. The inherently dangerous nature of the oil drilling environment makes it all too easy for catastrophic accidents to develop without warning. Many oil companies make this situation worse by failing to diligently train and instruct workers about important safety procedures.

After an explosion, it can be difficult for victims to piece together what happened and which safety measures could have prevented an explosion. An experienced oil and gas lawyer can help prepare an effective case to secure the compensation that injured workers and their families deserve.

Source: Rigzone, “Second Death Confirmed from Black Elk Explosion in the GOM,” Quintella Koh, Nov. 26, 2012

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