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article imageExclusion zone around North Sea gas platform

By Amanda Payne     Mar 27, 2012 in Technology
A four mile exclusion zone has been set up around the Elgin Total oil platform in the North Sea due to a gas leak that may cause an explosion.
Hundreds of workers have been evacuated from the platform and other nearby installations, ships have been told to stay at least two miles away and planes at least three miles away. The Elgin Total platform is situated 150 miles from Aberdeen on the Scottish coast. According to the Daily Mail, the platform is surrounded by a giant gas cloud, a sign of a large gas leak. Total has said that the cause of the leak is unknown and "all possible measures" are being taken to bring it under control.
The leak was first noticed on Sunday March 25 and has gradually got worse. According to the BBC, oil company Total has said it could take as long as six months to stop the leak with options such as drilling a relief well on the table. So far, the company has been unable to discover from where the gas is leaking. The company has activated its emergency plan and it is believed that workers, known as the 'Texas Hellfighters' who dealt with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 have been called in to help.
A spokesman for the RMT union which covers the oil platform workers, Jake Molloy told the BBC:
"Fortunately we have dealt with the human side of it, but the potential exists for catastrophic devastation. If it somehow finds an ignition source we could be looking at complete destruction."
Sky News reports that other oil companies in the area, such as Shell, have taken the precautionary measure of removing their staff from the platforms closest to the stricken platform, shutting down production and leaving their platforms in a safe state. Oil Spill Response (OSRL) have made two surveillance flights over the Elgin Total platform, with more flights planned, but so far there is no major change in the gas cloud or a large bubble that has formed.
As long as the leak continues, the danger of an explosion is high, so all eyes will be on the platform and on Total's handling of the potential disaster.
More about North sea, gas platform, leaking gas, explosion possibilty, Elgin total
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