The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

July 30, 2013

Federal agency to probe blown well

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO — Scientists from several universities are working to learn whether a gas well that blew wild last week off the Louisiana coast has polluted the Gulf of Mexico.

Joseph Montoya, a Georgia Tech biology professor, was leading a research project on a vessel near the site of the 2010 BP oil spill when the gas well, owned by Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas Corp., suffered a blowout on July 23 and later caught fire. All 44 people aboard the Hercules 265 rig working at the site in 154 feet of water were evacuated safely. The rig is owned by Hercules Offshore Inc., also based in Houston.

The well spewed gas and small amounts of oil that produced occasional light sheens on the Gulf surface. Late Wednesday, the well choked itself off. Authorities believe sand and sediments blocked the flow of gas and the fire that damaged the rig burned itself out.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Monday that its Gulf of Mexico Regional Director, Lars Herbst, was organizing a panel investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

“The panel will be led by a BSEE Gulf of Mexico Region engineer and membership includes BSEE investigators and engineers from both the Gulf Region and Headquarters,” the agency said in a news release. BSEE will also work with the coast guard to find the cause of the blowout, determine whether any safety violations were involved and make recommendations to prevent future blowouts.

Meanwhile, Montoya and the team of academics hoped to find any hints of environmental damage.

“We organized a rapid-response cruise to get some of our scientists out here,” Montoya said Saturday while near the Hercules rig.

A 10-member crew used buckets, hoses and canisters to collect water samples to measure levels of methane gas, radon gas, bacterial abundance and activity, among other things. The Coast Guard wouldn’t let their boat closer than 5 miles to the rig.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • At mudslide scene, Obama mourns with survivors

    OSO, Wash. — Swooping over a landscape of unspeakable sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month. He pledged a nation’s solidarity ...

    April 23, 2014

  • GM, lawyers fight over protections

    DETROIT — General Motors Co. and a battalion of trial lawyers are preparing for an epic court fight over whether GM is liable for the sins of its corporate past. The company is asking a U.S. bankruptcy court to shield it from legal claims ...

    April 23, 2014

  • Boston Marathon One year after tragedy, 32,000 run Boston Marathon

    BOSTON — Some ran to honor the dead and wounded. Others were out to prove something to the world about their sport, the city or their country. And some wanted to prove something to themselves....

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Festivities, tight security before race

    BOSTON — In many ways, it felt like any other pre-marathon Sunday in Boston....

    April 21, 2014

  • Boston race makes room for those affected by bombs

    BOSTON — “I need to run.” The messages started arriving just hours after the bombings, pleading for an entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon. For months the calls and emails continued, runners begging for an opportunity to cross the finish ...

    April 21, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall for failed power steering

    DETROIT — General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    JACKSON, Wyo. — A slow-motion disaster continued unfolding in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson on Saturday, as a creeping landslide that split a hillside home threatened to swallow up more houses and businesses. The ground beneath the ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

    Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers. Samuel Rogers is a 20-year-old ...

    April 20, 2014

  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs....

    April 20, 2014

  • Hostage French journalists in Syria freed

    PARIS — Four French journalists held hostage in Syria for 10 months have been released, officials said Saturday, the latest batch of reporters to be freed in what has become the world’s deadliest conflict for the media....

    April 20, 2014