A supply vessel moves near an oil rig damaged by an explosion and fire, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, in the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La. Four people were transported to a hospital with critical burns and two were missing. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

After spill, offshore enforcement remains murky

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Nearly three years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the government agency that oversees offshore energy development still uses an opaque and unwieldy enforcement process that appears to give companies more leverage than the regulators policing them.
Commercial vessels spray water on the fire aboard the West Delta 32 production platform. (Coast Guard photo)

Black Elk launches probe of fatal platform fire

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Black Elk Energy is conducting an internal investigation into what caused an explosion on one of its Gulf of Mexico oil platforms last month, killing three workers and injuring others.
This Dec. 3, 2012 photo provided by the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection shows the embankment after a collapse at the Consol's Robinson Run operation in Harrison County, W. Va.  Crews continued to look for a missing miner and bulldozer that slid into the impoundment with two trucks and two engineers when an embankment under construction internal to the impoundment collapsed around noon on Friday, Nov. 30. (AP Photo/W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection)

Critic questions way coal firms build slurry ponds

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Slurry pond failures like the one that swallowed a bulldozer and its driver last week at a West Virginia coal mine could be avoided if the waste pits were built to strict construction standards that regulators ignore, said a mine safety expert and frequent critic of the coal industry.
Categories: Accidents, Coal
Delegates to the Arctic Technology Conference listen to a presentation on oil spill preparedness at the George R. Brown Convention Center Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in Houston. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Shale enters the discussion at Arctic conference

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Amid talk of ice-breaking boats and tools for Arctic oil spill cleanup, the shale revolution found its way into a Houston conference Wednesday, with an expert highlighting the potential of Alaska’s shale resources.
Hector Maggi, vice president of marketing and sales for TFT Pneumatic Industrial Tools, demonstrates the company s spark-less grinder, which uses patented technology to cut metal without causing sparks or generating heat. The company markets the  tools to the offshore oil industry.

Tools without sparks could save lives offshore

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The spinning edge of the grinder blade makes contact with the steel, but no sparks rain out from the edge like fireflies shot from a harvester.
Cleanup worker Jeiner Foronda places fresh absorbent boom in the affected marshland of Terrebonne Parish, La., while cleaning up oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. ( Smiley N. Pool / Chronicle )

Judge tosses spill claims against dispersant maker

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A federal judge presiding over litigation spawned by the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill has dismissed all claims against the manufacturer of a chemical dispersant that was used to break up crude gushing from BP’s blown-out well.
(Photo: Fotolia)

Homeowners suing over Wis. gas pipeline spill

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Homeowners sued over a massive gasoline spill in southeastern Wisconsin this summer that has contaminated many of their wells, their attorneys said.
Commercial vessels spray water on the fire aboard the West Delta 32 production platform. (Coast Guard photo)

Democrats press Grand Isle Shipyards for info on fatal production platform fire

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Leading House Democrats are broadening their probe into what caused a fatal offshore production platform fire by scrutinizing the contractor working on the facility when it ignited last month.
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Worker at Valero’s Memphis refinery dies

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A worker at Valero Energy Corp.’s Memphis refinery died Monday after being exposed to propane and hydrofluoric acid.
Categories: Accidents, Workforce
Bubbles come to the surface where pipelines come across Bayou Corne near Pierre Part, La., in August 2012.  (AP Photo/The Baton Rouge Advocate, Bill Feig)

Officials fine Texas Brine $100,000 over sinkhole

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Louisiana officials have fined Texas Brine Co. $100,000 over the company’s failure to follow state orders on a giant Assumption Parish sinkhole.
Categories: Accidents