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Fire crews remain at Hercules rig

Aug. 6, 2013 at 7:09 AM

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. safety regulators said a safety zone was still in place and firefighting vessels remained at the site of a natural gas explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Walter Oil & Gas Corp. told authorities they lost control of a well on July 23 while preparing for natural gas production. By the next day, a natural gas plume had exploded and part of a rig owned by Hercules Offshore had collapsed.

Sediment and debris closed the leak naturally. There were no injuries or major environmental damage tied to the incident.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Monday the Coast Guard was keeping a 1,640-foot safety zone around the site and firefighting vessels remained on hand as a precaution.

The BSEE said the cause of the incident remained under investigation. There were no further reports of natural gas leaking from the site of the accident, about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The regulator said there was no sheen present in the area. Drilling for a relief well meant to resolve the incident permanently began Sunday and should take approximately 35 days.

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