The Vermillion 380 offshore platform, owned by Mariner Energy, has exploded. This disaster is occurring while there is still oil throughout the Gulf of Mexico because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Vermillion 380 platform gets its name from Vermillion Bay, Louisiana which is north of the platform. Although this platform was about 90 miles south of the Louisiana shore, it was in shallow water, so the special hazards and difficulties of working a mile underwater to stop the Deepwater Horizon are not present.
Louisiana officials have responded quickly to this disaster. The Vermilion platform caught on fire on the morning of September 2. Governor Bobby Jindal consulted Coast Guard professionals, as well as other state and federal experts, and held a press conference a few hours later. According to the Louisiana Emergency Website, all 13 of the platform workers were successfully rescued by the Coast Guard. Mariner claims that this platform produced up to 1,800 barrels of oil a day, which is much less than what the Deepwater Horizon could produce.
There have been previous safety accidents related to Vermillion platforms. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a helicopter which was flying from the Vermillion 408 platform to the Vermillion 369 platform never made it to the second platform. The Coast Guard did not find the missing helicopter or the helicopter pilot, so Coast Guard officials believe that this was a fatal accident.
The federal government does provide grants to assist residents who are affected by disasters in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the United States Department of Commerce, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke provided a grant of $30.7 million dollars to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration. This grant will allow the agency to rebuild a barrier headland. Although the source talks about this grant with respect to the BP disaster, the actual project this money will fund seems like it will be a lot more useful for protecting Gulf residents from hurricanes, such as Hurricane Katrina.
The Department of the Interior is now working with scientists at government laboratories, as well as universities and companies, to create a scenario modeling tool to make spill recovery efforts more effective. According to the Department of the Interior, the project will model the long term effects of the Deepwater Horizon on the Gulf of Mexico, such as the loss of fishing and shrimping jobs, the loss in tourism and related restaurant and hotel sales declines, and the cost of health care for residents who have physically suffered due to the oil and the toxic dispersants used to clean up spills.