One Person Still Missing Following Oil Rig Explosion in Louisiana

Police were notified of a loud explosion about 7:18 p.m. local time by residents, and soon after received a call from the platform that a boat carrying injured was on its way to shore, said Kenner, Louisiana, police Lieutenant Brian McGregor.

An explosion hit an oil platform on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana Sunday night, injuring seven people and possibly leaving one person unaccounted for, according to Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni.

Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor said numerous injuries were serious.

The platform, which is a storage and transfer structure for oil wells on the lake, was still burning, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said at a press conference late Sunday.

"Authorities on the scene report that cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform", the City of Kenner Government posted on its Facebook page Sunday evening.

There were at least eight people on the platform and on a nearby supply vessel at the time, officials said. "We are treating it as having one person unaccounted for and treating it as a search and rescue". The station wrote that seven people were rescued from the oil platform, and were taken to area hospitals.

Information about the victims of the explosion has not yet been reported.

Authorities acknowledged there was a possibility that the fire meant oil could be leaking into the lake, but noted that Jefferson Parish drinking water will remain safe because it is pulled from the Mississippi River.

Several witnesses told Eyewitness News they heard a big boom and their houses shook following the incident.

It's a brackish tidal basin that is fed both by the Gulf of Mexico and by fresh water from rivers and streams in 16 Louisiana parishes and four MS counties.

A statement from the New Orleans company says a natural gas well was feeding the tank at the time of the explosion, which occurred during maintenance.

The Coast Guard will be conducting a water quality evaluation as well as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

  • Joey Payne