Last week, Louisiana experienced an accident on an offshore natural gas rig. Apparently, the blowout preventer malfunctioned and did not prevent gas from escaping from the well, and it is the reason that regulators are now beginning to pay more attention to the drilling that occurs in shallow water. On July 23, the Hercules Offshore rig that is operated by Walter Gas & Oil began to leak gas. Subsequently, the gas caught fire and damaged the Hercules 265. Fortunately, everyone was evacuated before the fire started, and none of the 44 employees were injured. Authorities who performed a preliminary investigation of the leak discovered that it had stopped the next day because sand and sediment began to clog the well. Further investigations will be undertaken by the Coast Guard and the Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. In cases such as these, the blowout preventer would be expected to shut off the flow of gas after workers have lost control. As this did not happen, the investigating bodies are expected to find out why. In 2010, a similar chemical plant accident occurred at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. At that time, the blowout preventer failed to keep oil from spewing from the BP PLC's Macondo well which caused catastrophic damage to the Gulf Coast. Steps to Be Taken In the Future The Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's director James Watson will begin by meeting with executives from shallow-water drilling organizations. The main topics of discussion will be reducing the risk of chemical accidents and better safety measures. According to Watson, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) recognized the need to determine which changes needed to be made to blowout preventer requirements before the latest accident. Even members of the House of Representatives have begun to ask questions of Watson. Specifically, they wanted to know when he plans to issue the new requirements and whether or not drillers would be required to discard their current blowout preventers. Although the American Petroleum Institute has taken steps independently to improve the way the industry operates, some members of the House are concerned about the fact that rig operators do not have clear rules to follow that are related to safety equipment. In addition, some people would like to see the industry increase its leadership in creating an independent safety institute. One of these people is Frances Beinecke of the National Resources Defense Council who also believes that the federal government has a role to play. She would like to see the government create an offshore safety authority that will supervise oil and gas procedures. At least one member of the Senate Edward Markey suggested that the fines drillers receive for gas leaks need to be higher. He is also questioning why the blowout preventer in the latest accident malfunctioned. You May Need to Hire an Industrial Accident Lawyer With the frequency that chemical plant accidents have been occurring recently, it is clear that the oil and gas industry does not have this issue under control. Therefore, we can expect more accidents at chemical plants in the future. If there is a silver lining in this situation, it may be the fact that you have the right to hire an industrial accident attorney to protect your rights if you are injured in a similar accident. You may have lost a loved one in an industrial accident. As the survivor, you are entitled to hire an industrial accident lawyer to file a wrongful death in industrial accident claim. Industrial accident attorneys have extensive experience in this area of law, and will fight for the compensation you deserve.