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Shell Platform 26; Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana

Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana | 1970-Dec-01

Initial Notification: On December 1, 1970, Shell Oil Co. Platform 26 exploded and caught fire. The platform included 22 production wells with a capacity of 15,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The flames from the burning platform blazed 400 feet into the air. The 21-B well, with a 424-barrel per day capacity, ruptured 12 feet above the water. By December 3, the service crane had collapsed towards the center of the platform at a 60? angle. Burning oil covered the surface of the water within 50 feet of the platform. By December 7, well No. 21-B was contributing to 30-50 percent of the fire. Shifting winds, fog and rough seas slowed response efforts at times. Holes were shot into the tubing of some of the wells to determine whether oil was still being produced. On January 12, Shell Oil Co. personnel perforated a relief well in an attempt to contain the flow. On January 20, eight of the wells remained on fire. Corexit 7664 dispersant was applied to the slick at a rate of 3 barrels per hour. Response operations began moderating on March 1. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter and helicopter were released from the scene. Shell Oil Co. officials were required to submit daily pollution reports to the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP), New Orleans, in advance of any operations that may have increased pollution. Drilling, capping, and pumping of the wells continued throughout April. By April 16, the estimated rate of release was 20 barrels per day. The slick was reportedly staying within a 6-mile radius of the platform, with sheen extending to 12 miles. The slick was reduced to sheen during the following months as pumping and capping operations continued. Beach surveys were conducted by personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Shell Oil Co., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and other local observers. The only shoreline oiling that resulted from the incident was between Caminada Pass and Bay Champagne. The case was closed by the U.S. Coast Guard on May 17, 1971. The explosion and subsequent fire killed four people and seriously burned 37 others. USCG district 8.

Incident Details
Primary threat:Oil
Products of concern:Crude oil
Latitude (approximate): 28° 46.00′ North
Longitude (approximate): 90° 10.00′ West
On-Water Recovery: Unknown/Not applicable
Shoreline Cleanup: Unknown/Not applicable
Dispersants: Applied
In-Situ Burn: Unknown/Not applicable
Bioremediation: Unknown/Not applicable