The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports the burning oil rig sinks into Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon exploded on Tuesday night and a fire was burning on it since the blast.
The rig was spilling 13,000 gallons an hour yesterday, but virtually all of it was burning off. Now that the rig has sunk and the fire is out, crews are trying to contain the oil, which may still be spilling into the Gulf....
Boats had been spraying water on the burning rig since the explosion and fire but were making little headway in extinguishing the blaze.
The fire was making it impossible for a remotely operated vehicle to get to the rig to try to stop the flow of oil.
Eleven members of the 126-person crew remain missing and "one relative of the missing workers said family members have been told it's unlikely anyone survived the blast". However, there is still some hope they may be alive since a damaged "life capsule" was found and is being towed to Port Fourchon.
U.S. Coast Guard photo
The rig was about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The LA Times reports the Coast Guard is "guardedly optimistic" about the fate if the missing 11 crew.
On Thursday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Butler struck a guardedly optimistic note about the 11 missing workers, noting that calm seas and warm water temperatures increased their chance of survival.
"The water is warm right now and it's looking good," Butler said. "The Coast Guard is going to continue searching as long as there's a reasonable probability that these folks are alive."
But the Coast Guard also says the missing workers were closest to explosion site, according to the Times-Picayune.
The 11 workers missing from an oil rig that exploded Tuesday "may have been in the vicinity of the explosion," a U.S. Coast Guard official said this afternoon and one company official said they may not have been able to evacuate the platform once it caught fire.
The Coast Guard has searched 1,940 square miles of ocean since Tuesday night for the missing crew.
Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
The Houston Chronicle reports some survivor family members presume the missing crew are likely dead.
Stanley Murray, the father of one of the workers who escaped from the rig said in an interview in Louisiana this morning his son told him he didn’t think any of the missing could have survived.
"The 11 that’s missing, they won’t find ‘em," Murray said. "They’re burned up."
The AP via MSNBC is reporting similar grim news:
Carolyn Kemp said Thursday that her grandson, Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, was among the missing. She said he would have been on the drilling platform when it exploded.
"They're assuming all those men who were on the platform are dead," Kemp said. "That's the last we've heard."
The NY Times reports firefighting efforts contributed to the rig taking on water.
Petty Officer Tom Atkeson said on Thursday that the rig sank "sometime this morning."
"We have multiple vessels on scene — all response vessels — and they are on scene there to help to mitigate the effects of the pollution," Petty Officer Atkeson said in a telephone interview. He added that it was not clear how much oil had spilled into the ocean.
Yesterday, authorities said that despite the rig listing 10 degrees, they did not expect it to capsize. At the time, the oil gushing from the rig was being consumed by the blaze and not expected to pollute significantly the Gulf.
"But that does have the potential to change," said David Rainey, vice president of BP, the oil company that leased the rig. Mr. Rainey is in charge of the company’s exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now the rig has sunk, the pollution control armada that was deployed to the rig is set to take mitigation action. The Times-Picayune reports that Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the Coast Guard's 8th district has described "a one-by-five mile 'rainbow sheen' has been seen in the water" where the rig was. "She said skimmers are already being put in place to try to contain the leaking fuel."
CNN that diesel fuel on the rig is of concern as well.
Crude oil was leaking from the rig at the rate of about 8,000 barrels per day, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Butler said. The Coast Guard also is preparing for possible leaks of up to 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel but can do little to protect the environment until the fire is out, Butler said.
The Chronicle reports Coast Guard Fireman Katherine McNamara said the "worst case scenario" is for rig to spill 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel it was carrying as well as the crude oil into the Gulf.
U.S. Coast Guard video of the rig fire.
Yesterday, the Times-Picayune reported that "the Deepwater Horizon is used for drilling and does not actually produce any oil. When BP has sufficiently explored the area and wants to begin extracting oil, it will use different equipment."
Three weeks ago, the Obama administration eased a ban on offshore oil drilling that opened up part of the Atlantic coast and more of the Gulf of Mexico to exploratory drilling.
For more information on Tuesday night's explosion and subsequent fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig, please see my diary: Exploratory oil drilling rig explosion & fire in the Gulf of Mexico.
[Update] Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 6:55:00 PM EDT
The Times-Picayune reports the Coast Guard says the search for survivors will end early Friday.
[Rear Adm. Mary] Landry said the search-and-rescue effort is continuing, but as time goes on, "the probability of success decreases." The Coast Guard will continue to search for 12 more hours before it assumes there are no survivors left to search for, she said...
A life vessel used by employees to escape such incidents was brought to shore today, but there was no one aboard, Landry said.
CNN reports that an oil slick is spreading from the sunken rig.
A 1-by-5-mile sheen of crude oil mix has spread across the Gulf of Mexico's surface around the area where an oil rig exploded and sank, a Coast Guard lieutenant said Thursday.
"This is a rainbow sheen with a dark center," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters Thursday afternoon.
Officials do not know whether oil or fuel are leaking form the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig and the well below, but BP Vice President David Rainey said "it certainly has the potential to be a major spill."