MARCH 28 2012 15:25h
Flare risks gas blast at Elgin platform
Sheen measuring about 6 nautical miles was reported from the Elgin platform this week. A cloud of gas is surrounding the foot of the platform and a flare is burning from a stack about 295 feet upwind from the leak.
David Hainsworth, a safety and environment manager for Total, told the BBC that the flare would "probably" burn out but he wasn't sure when.
Jake Molloy, a representative from an offshore workers' trade union, expressed concern about the flare, saying it presented a potential for "catastrophic devastation."
Hainsworth said there wasn't time to extinguish the flame because evacuation procedures were the priority.
Marine experts who spoke with the BBC said an explosion at the platform would likely be massive. Martin Preston, a marine pollution scientist at the University of Liverpool, said volatile winds could stir up and ignite the gas cloud.
"It's just not going to be safe. If it just keeps burning then they're going to have to find a plan B," he said. "But the plan B which involves drilling a relief well is going to take a very long time."
Total said it was monitoring the situation with vessels in the area.
ABERDEEN, Scotland, March 28 (UPI) -- A flare is burning on the Elgin platform leaking natural gas off the coast of Scotland, though a Total official said it would probably burn out.