Some guys (dudes, really) were out in the Gulf of Mexico last week filming a fishing show when suddenly, on the horizon: boom.
This was the oil rig explosion that killed 42-year-old Ellroy Corporal, injured nearly a dozen others, and initiated a search for another worker, Jerome Malagapo, who has still not been found. The Houston Chronicle has updates:
Federal officials deepened their probes Monday into the safety and procedures aboard a Gulf of Mexico oil platform where an explosion and fire last week left one worker dead and another missing. …
On Monday, federal investigators issued a broad subpoena to Black Elk Energy in connection with the fatal fire. In the subpoena, the Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency that probes industrial accidents, raised a question about the use of combustible gas detectors on the platform.
Since the explosion and fire, there has been no oil leak beyond the initially reported sheen. But the accident has drawn attention to the safety record of the contracting firm that Black Elk hired to man the rig.
[Malagapo,] Corporal and the injured workers were among several Filipino employees of Grand Isle Shipyard, a Galliano, La.-based contractor that was performing maintenance work on the platform about 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La., when the fire broke out.
Grand Isle Shipyard is the target of legal action by former employees who say they were recruited from the Philippines, paid unlawfully low wages and subjected to poor living and working conditions. …
The lawsuit alleges that the companies recruited skilled Filipino workers with promises of high wages and comfortable working environments.
“When they got here, they were subjected to very poor living conditions, extremely long working hours and many of them were working 12-plus hours a day,” said Lori Mince, a New Orleans attorney representing the workers.
Nola.com describes another incident involving Grand Isle Shipyard:
Federal records show that two employees of Galliano-based Grand Isle Shipyard Inc. were killed in December 2007 after they inhaled poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas, according to an investigation by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In that accident, a worker who was cleaning a tank aboard a utility vessel fell from a ladder, which disconnected his respirator and exposed him to the gas. A second employee went to rescue the worker, but in the process, his harness was cut. By the time the men were recovered, they were unconscious. They died within days.
After the investigation was completed, in 2008, Grand Isle was fined $7,000 for the accident, which OSHA deemed a “serious violation,” federal records show.
Referring to something as a tragedy often implies a sweeping majesty, a sense of import. But there’s an undercurrent to the word that suggests that even the banal can be shocking and deeply painful. Two men from the Philippines, promised a better life, forced to leap into the ocean to avoid being burned to death. One man, probably both, drowns. From a distance, the massive fireball is a tiny orange blossom on the horizon.