UPDATE: Missing oil platform employee identified

KENNER, La. (AP)- 4:40 p.m.:  A contractor who disappeared when during an explosion on an oil and gas platform on Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain has been identified as a 44-year-old man from Katy, Texas.

Two helicopters and numerous boats were involved in the search for Timothy Morrison on Monday.

Seven other people were injured, three critically. The blast took place in waters north of the suburb of Kenner in Jefferson Parish. Jefferson Sheriff Joe Lopinto said Morrison was a subcontractor for the structure’s owner, Clovelly Oil Co. LLC.

12 p.m.: The Coast Guard says the fire is out at an oil and gas transfer platform that exploded in flames Sunday evening, and there’s no sign of pollution from the accident.

A news release Monday said the Coast Guard is continuing to coordinate the search for a man missing since the explosion occurred about 7:20 p.m. Sunday.

Clovelly Oil Co. LLC spokesman Tim O’Leary says the missing man is a contract worker. He says three Clovelly employees and four other contract workers are in hospitals.

He says the crew was performing maintenance when the explosion occurred.

10:30 a.m.: The company that owns an oil and gas platform that exploded says a contract worker is missing, and three company employees and four contractors are injured.

Clovelly Oil Co. LLC spokesman Tim O’Leary says the platform is a collection point for oil and gas from several wells.

A statement from the New Orleans company says a natural gas well was feeding the tank at the time of the explosion, which occurred during maintenance.

The statement says its three oil wells were shut in at the time, and the flow from the gas well was cut off after the explosion. The statement says Clovelly doesn’t know if any oil was released into Lake Pontchartrain.

At a Monday morning news conference, Jefferson Parrish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said the fire was still burning. Authorities expected the blaze to eventually burn itself out. Authorities say one person remained missing after the blast and U.S. Coast Guard crews were searching for him.

ORIGINAL STORY: A fire continues to burn on an oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain more than nine hours after an explosion Sunday night that injured several people.

According to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, eight people were aboard the oil platform at the time of the explosion around 8 p.m. Sunday. Seven people were hurt, and deputies say the eighth person is unaccounted for.

Several witnesses told WWL-TV that they heard a loud boom and their homes shook Sunday night.

Five workers were transported to University Medical Center with injuries ranging from burns to “blasts.” The other two workers were taken to the East Jefferson General Hospital and are in stable condition.

“We are treating it as a search and rescue,” Sheriff Joe Lopinto said.

There are boat and helicopter crews on scene conducting the search for that person as of late Sunday into Monday morning. The Coast Guard said that the person missing is a man and his name is not being released at this time.

The platform is located in shallow water about a mile and a half from the Kenner boat launch.

Jefferson Parish officials tell Eyewitness News that the workers were cleaning chemicals aboard the platform but the cause of the fire is unknown at this time. Arson investigators will determine the cause after the fire has burned out.

Patrick Courreges at the Department of Natural Resources confirmed to Eyewitness News reporter David Hammer that the owner of the platform is Clovelly Oil Co., based on Poydras Street. The platform is a production platform called a co-mingling facility where they draw oil from several different oil fields.

The environmental impact is also known at this time, officials say the platform is not a drilling rig and is only used to store oil until it can be transported to land.

Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni said the parish’s drinking water was not affected by the incident because the water is drawn from the Mississippi River.

Parish officials and JPSO have scheduled an 8 a.m. press conference to update on the fire.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Jefferson County Parish and St. Charles Parish also have marine units on scene assisting.


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