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Vermillion 380 A Platform Fire

Oil Rig Fire on September 2, 2010

Vermillion 380 A Platform

Oil Rig Fire off the Coast of Louisiana

In the 1980s, the Vermillion 380 A Platform was built off the coast of Louisiana. Mariner Energy, Inc., a company later acquired by Apache Corporation, owned the offshore platform. On September 2, 2010, the platform was off-line for some maintenance when it caught on fire. According to reports, the light could be seen from over 100 miles away; the fire only burned for a few hours before being extinguished. All of the workers dove into the ocean and huddled together in their “gumby suits.” Two hours later, they were rescued, and only 1 of the 13 crew members sustained injury from the ordeal. Luckily, the platform had not been producing or drilling for oil for two whole years before the incident.

Therefore, only mild consequences resulted from the accident—unlike the Deepwater Horizon tragedy—which occurred 200 miles east of the Vermillion 380 A explosion.

The Cause of the Vermillion 380 A Fire

When a fire breaks out on an oil platform, authorities conduct detailed investigations to determine how it started. In the case of Vermillion 380 A, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) performed an in-depth analysis of the cause of the fire. Through their searching, the BOEM discovered that an entirely avoidable accident caused the fire. Mariner Energy, Inc. allowed a 30-year-old “Heater-Treater” to run in the Vermillion 380 A system. A Heater-Treater uses heat along with electricity and other chemicals to separate oily water emulsions into oil and water. After three decades of use, the fire tube of the machine was weak from various factors. The Heater-Treater’s fire tube was affected by heat, corrosion, and pitting. On the day of the fire, the fire tube collapsed inside the platform’s Heater-Treater, causing the system to erupt into flames.

While the heater-treater caused the fire, the Vermillion 380 A also experienced a failure in safety equipment. In oil rig explosion accidents, it is well-known that the force of an explosion can cut out the primary power. In preparation of a primary power failure, all oil rigs must maintain an active emergency generator to deal with life-threatening situations. However, when the fire tube collapsed on the Vermillion 380 A, the central power cut out, as expected; however, the emergency generator failed to come online.

Due to the failure of the emergency generator, the 13-member crew of the rig was unable to turn on the firewater system. In the case of the Vermillion 380 A, if the emergency generator had been capable of running, the crew might have been able to deal with the fire on their own. Unfortunately, the team had no means to fight the fire, resulting in their immediate evacuation from the platform. Once the team evacuated, they tread water for two hours until a vessel named the Crystal Clear rescued them from the ocean.

Vermillion 380 A Explosion FAQ

Was anyone injured in the Vermillion 380 A Platform explosion?

Only one worker was injured when the Vermillion 380 A Platform caught fire and exploded on September 2, 2010. 12 others were on board the fixed platform at the time of the explosion, but all were able to evacuate and treaded water for 2 hours before being rescued. The platform had been offline for two years prior to the explosion, which contributed to the low injury count.

Why did the Vermillion 380 A Platform explode?

Vermillion 380 A explosion was caused by the collapse of a fire tube inside the platform’s Heater-Treater. Heater-Treaters are key pieces of equipment used in oil and gas operations that use heat to separate oil-water emulsions before transporting oil through pipelines. Vermillion 380 A’s Heater-Treater was 30 years old and had been subject to wear and tear that caused pitting and corrosion in the system’s fire tube. The fire tube finally collapsed on September 2, causing the explosion.

What should I do if I was injured on an offshore platform?

The crew of the Vermillion 380 A Platform was lucky to escape with their lives. If you or someone you love was injured in any type of accident, fire, or explosion involving an offshore rig, our team at Arnold & Itkin is here to help. We know maritime law and fight for offshore workers with the tireless dedication it takes to win. Our lawyers aren’t afraid of facing off against the largest oil and gas companies. In fact, these corporations know to fear us because we have secured billions of dollars in compensation for our clients. We’re known for doing whatever it takes to set things right.

Vermillion 380 A Explosion Deemed a Lucky Anomaly

In most cases, oil rig fires and explosions cause significantly more damage than the Vermillion 380 accident. In this scenario, there was only one injury and no fatalities; however, this is not always the case. Compare the injury count with the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which occurred that same year. In that incident, 11 lost their lives and many sustained severe injuries. If you or a loved one has faced an oil rig fire, you should not hesitate to seek immediate assistance from a legal professional. At Arnold & Itkin, we are vastly experienced in this area of the law and can help you protect your constitutional rights while pursuing a maritime claim.

Want to discuss your potential case in more detail? Just pick up the phone and call us at (888) 493-1629. Or, use our online form. We are available to discuss your situation and can help you understand all of the legal options available to you.

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