Oil rig sinks off US coast

An explosion has caused an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico to collapse and sink, resulting in what looks likely to be one of the worst spills in years.

The explosion is thought to have been caused by a blow-out, as a build up of gas or oil suddenly runs up the pipe and catches fire.

Most of the 100 plus crew from the Deepwater Horizon rig escaped unharmed but fears were growing for 11 workers that remain unaccounted for.

The rig pumped around 13,000 gallons of oil and gas every hour and pressure from the natural reservoir below means much of that flow continues to feed the spill.

Owner of the rig Transocean issued a statement saying: “The combined response team was not able to stem the flow of hydrocarbons prior to the rig sinking, and we are working closely with [lease operator] BP Exploration & Production, Inc. and the US Coast Guard to determine the impact from the sinking of the rig and the plans going forward.

“The U. Coast Guard has plans in place to mitigate any environmental impact from this situation.”

Booms and chemical dispersants are being used at the site.

The incident occurred on April 20, at approximately 10pm local time.

The rig was located approximately 41 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The cause of the fire and explosion is unknown at this time. An investigation into the cause of the incident and assessment of the damage will be ongoing in the days or weeks to come.

The grim irony will not be lost that the worst recent environmental disaster in the US occurred as thousands of Americans geared up to celebrate Earth Day.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie