Does Major Explosion Loom Off Scotland?

Workers evacuated from natural gas platform
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 30, 2012 9:44 AM CDT
The Wednesday, March 28, 2012 aerial shot shows Total's Elgin Wellhead Platform in the North Sea off the shore of Scotland.   (AP Photo / Greenpeace, Martin Langer)

(Newser) – A North Sea drilling platform is leaking natural gas, and experts fear the "well from hell" could cause a massive explosion, wreaking havoc on the environment. More than 200 workers have been evacuated from the platform off the Scottish coast; no one is allowed within 3 miles of the site, Greenpeace tells Der Spiegel. Now French energy firm Total, which operates the Elgin platform, is rushing to find a way to plug the leak, some 4,000 yards under the sea floor, which was identified on Sunday.

Environmentalists investigating the site by plane on Wednesday say an invisible gas flame above the platform remains burning, even though Total had insisted otherwise. If it comes into contact with rising gas vapors from the leak, an explosion could ensue, experts say. And though the environmentalists observed the gas clouds moving away from the platform, a change in weather could prove disastrous, notes Der Spiegel. Total must decide whether to wait and see if the gas runs out, spend months drilling relief wells, or risk filling the well with cement.

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