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No spill after oil platform blast

Residents living near to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico got a gut-wrenching feeling of deja vu when news broke of an explosion at an oil platform.

In the second such disaster to hit the area no one was killed and there was no leak after the blast off the coast of Louisiana, the US Coast Guard confirmed.

The worst fears of locals were raised when they were told by the coastguard that a slick a mile long had begun to spread from the site of the explosion, which is about 200 miles to the west of where the BP Deepwater Horizon blast occurred.

However, no crews were able to locate any spill from the recent incident, Cmdr Cheri Ben-Iesau later said.

Mariner Energy, the Houston, Texas-based company which owns the platform, said it did not know how the explosion happened.

Mariner officials said there were seven active production wells on the platform and they were shut down shortly before the fire broke out.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said the company told him the fire began in 100 barrels of light oil condensate, but officials did not know yet what sparked the flames.

The coastguard said Mariner Energy initially reported the oil sheen. In a public statement, the company said an initial flyover did not show any oil.

Photos from the scene showed at least five ships floating near the platform. Three of them were shooting great plumes of water onto the machinery. Light smoke could be seen drifting across the deep blue waters of the gulf.

By late afternoon, the fire on the platform was out.

The platform is in about 340ft of water and about 100 miles south of Louisiana’s Vermilion Bay. Its location is considered shallow water, much less than the approximately 5,000 feet where BP’s well spewed oil and gas for three months after the April rig explosion that killed 11 workers.

Responding to any oil spill in shallow water would be much easier than in deep water, where crews depend on remote-operated vehicles to access equipment on the sea floor.

A US Homeland Security update said the platform was producing 58,800 gallons of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The platform can store 4,200 gallons of oil.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration had “response assets ready for deployment should we receive reports of pollution in the water”.

All 13 of the platform’s crew members were rescued from the water. They were found huddled together in insulated survival outfits called Gumby suits, after their resemblance to the cartoon character.

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