Alabama Oil Rig With ‘Potentially Hazardous Materials’ on Board Catches Fire Along Mobile River

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
March 9, 2023US News
Alabama Oil Rig With ‘Potentially Hazardous Materials’ on Board Catches Fire Along Mobile River
Pump jacks extract crude oil in the Los Angeles area community of Culver City, Calif., on April 25, 2008. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A decommissioned oil rig in Alabama caught fire on March 8, sending heavy clouds of black smoke into the air, according to the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department (MFRD).

The incident occurred shortly before 2 p.m. local time.

The department said on Facebook that more than 55 firefighters were on the scene to put out the fire, which contains diesel, hydraulic fluid, oil, and other potentially hazardous materials.

“MFRD units are on scene of a 2-alarm structure fire at 400 Dunlap Drive,” the department said on Facebook. “Multiple companies arrived on scene to discover a multi-story, oil rig-like structure with heavy smoke and flames present.”

“The rig contains diesel, hydraulic fluid, and oil with other potential hazards on board. Crews are working in tandem to mitigate the incident as quickly as possible,” the department said.

Fire Under Control

Video footage shared online showed thick clouds of black smoke being released into the air that could be seen even from a distance.

In a later update, MFRD said the fire was under control roughly three hours after it had initially broken out. An investigation into the incident had begun and the Coast Guard was also on the scene assessing the situation.

There have been no reports of injuries so far and no shipyard personnel were harmed.

“Incident successfully mitigated. All MFRD crews are clearing the scene. Shipyard personnel will assume fire watch through the evening,” the department said. “This was a tremendous effort by all the crews and command and support staff involved.”

MFRD Chief Jeremy Lami told CBS 42 that the blaze occurred while crews were scrapping the old semi-submersible platform and a cut sparked the fire because of old fuel and oil on the platform.

He added that the fire had been difficult to put out because the platform was “several hundred feet” above the ground, meaning that firefighters were having to “engage in some fire suppression operations that require the use of our aerial devices,” such as drones.

“Any equipment that we’re using on top of that platform has to be taken up there with them, so we have to tote all that equipment up to the scene,” Lami said.

‘Potential Hazards’ to the Environment

Separately, MFRD spokesman Steven Millhouse told CBS 42 that while there is no risk to anyone in the area, officials remain concerned about “potential hazards” to the environment.

“Mostly, what we have got is residual mixed with the water and the foam that we used to battle the flames, just kind of flowing off of the top of the rig,” said Millhouse.

It is unclear exactly what rig was involved in the incident, however some reports indicate that it is the MSS3 oil rig that is being dismantled at the Alabama Shipyard.

On Tuesday, the Alabama Shipyard said on Facebook that its shipbreaking team had removed a 130-foot tower structure known as the derrick in its latest dismantling project, the MSS3 oil rig.

“The process of dismantling ships and other assets can present unique and unusual hazards, and obstacles that require careful planning, and outside-the-box solutions,” the shipyard said.

“Before its removal, our team assessed different options and scenarios, consulted with an experienced engineering firm, and developed a detailed procedure that ensured the safety and protection of our team, the environment, and equipment,” it added.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Alabama Shipyard for comment.

From The Epoch Times