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Confirmed gas leak caused offshore evacuation

An oil rig 55 miles from Grand Isles, Louisiana released natural gas and caused employees to evacuate Tuesday.
An oil rig 55 miles from Grand Isles, Louisiana released natural gas and caused employees to evacuate Tuesday.

For businesses that operate in especially hazardous conditions, having an updated business continuity plan is critical to ensure the safety of all employees should an evacuation occur.

This was perfectly demonstrated about 55 miles away from Grand Isle, Louisiana, an unused oil rig released natural gas, according to the Associated Press. Forty-four Hercules Offshore Inc. (HERO) employees working on a well owned by Walter Oil and Gas Corporation evacuated the scene but there were no injury reports. This is the second oil spill to touch the Louisiana coast this month.

"The crew was concerned for their safety, so once gas was detected and they felt like they did all they could do to shut in the well, they evacuated," HERO executive vice president Jim Noe told the Wall Street Journal.

The initial, half-mile by 50 feet layer of natural gas did not ignite, but eventually caught fire Tuesday evening, according to the New York Times. Walter Oil and Gas Corporation staff are unsure why an untouched rig leaked into the Gulf Coast and continues to do so. A possible reason could be that the rig was improperly closed, the same cause behind British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in 2010, according to the Journal. BP's leaked rig killed 11 staff members and known as the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Later Wednesday afternoon, the support beams of the rig's floor collapsed while workers were working on plugging the well, according to the Huffington Post.

Oil rigs in the Gulf Coast are not the only organizations that must have a strategy in place to protect employees. Business continuity consultants can help establish a business continuity plan in case a situation like this happens.