US probe: Oil platform owner liable for 2012 blast
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - November 6, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - An investigation by a United States federal agency into an explosion and fire at an oil rig platform that left three Filipinos dead and three others injured last year showed that the firm owner and its contractors are liable for the incident.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of the Department of the Interior cleared the Filipino workers of responsibility and put the blame on the owner of the Black Elk Energy and its four contractors for the accident that occurred at the Gulf of Mexico in 2012.

The incident resulted in the death of Ellroy Corporal, Jerome Malagapo and Avelino Tajonera, while their fellow workers – Antonio Tamayo, Reynaldo Dominguez and Wilberto Ilagan – sustained serious injuries.

Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. welcomed the report that concluded that the deaths and injury of the Filipino workers were the result of the failure of the Black Elk Energy and the contractors to install safety devices in the work area.

“We are greatly relieved to learn from the official BSEE investigation report that the Filipino workers were not responsible for the tragedy, contrary to earlier assertions made by Black Elk Energy president John Hoffman who attributed the accident to our workers,” Cuisia said.

The BSEE cited other safety lapses committed by the contractors as among the factors that caused the accident.

“The Filipino workers had extensive experience in offshore oil platforms in the Philippines, the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world, and they all speak and understand English,” Cuisia said as he disputed earlier claims by the Black Elk that the accident was triggered by the Filipinos’ supposed incompetence and lack of understanding of the English language.

While the release of the findings took longer than expected, Cuisia commended the BSEE for the impartial and thorough investigation.

ANTONIO TAMAYO BLACK ELK BLACK ELK ENERGY BUREAU OF SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT CUISIA DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ELLROY CORPORAL GULF OF MEXICO JEROME MALAGAPO AND AVELINO TAJONERA JOHN HOFFMAN
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