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Gulf of Mexico 2012 explosion incident sees manslaughter charges

24 November 2015

Three companies and three individuals face criminal charges stemming from an incident on the West Delta 32 oil platform, 17 miles (27km) offshore Louisiana in the US Gulf of Mexico, the US Department of Justice and US Attorney’s Office for eastern Louisiana have announced. The 16 November 2012 explosion killed three workers, injured several more people and spilled crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Stock image
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The incident happened after a flame from a welding torch ignited oil vapours from concurrent construction activities. This resulted in a chain of explosions that ultimately lead to the rupture and explosion of oil storage tanks.

Indictments named Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC, Grand Isle Shipyards Inc., and Wood Group PSN Inc., as well as three individuals in the charges. According to the November 19 indictment, the defendants were involved in different capacities while construction work was being carried out on the West Delta 32 platform when it exploded.

Black Elk Energy and Grand Isle Shipyards were charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter, eight counts of failing to follow proper safety practices under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and one count of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Wood Group PSN and the three individuals were charged with felony violations of OCSLA and the CWA, prosecutors said.

Black Elk Energy failed to properly supervise its contactors, which contributed to a series of events and decisions leading up to the fire and explosion, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement previously said.

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