- Associated Press - Thursday, September 2, 2010

NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) — The Coast Guard is backing off its earlier report that an oil sheen about a mile long was spreading following a another rig platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau said Thursday afternoon that crews was unable to confirm the oil sheen. The Coast Guard says platform owner Mariner Energy reported a sheen about a mile long and 100 feet wide. But the company has said in a statement that an initial flyover didn’t find an oil spill.

Ben-lesau says the fire on the platform has been put out. All 13 crew members were rescued from the water.

The company that owns the rig, Houston-based Mariner Energy, did not know what caused the blast, which was reported by a helicopter flying over the area.

Crew members were found floating in the water, huddled together in survival outfits called “gumby suits.”

“These guys had the presence of mind, used their training to get into those gumby suits before they entered the water. It speaks volumes to safety training and the importance of it because, beyond getting off the rig, there’s all the hazards of the water such as hypothermia,” Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer John Edwards said.

The crew was being flown to a hospital in Houma. Coast Guard Cmdr.Cheri Ben-Iesau said one person was injured, but the company said there were no injuries.

Seven Coast Guard helicopters, two airplanes and three cutters were dispatched to the scene.

The platform is in about 340 feet of water and about 100 miles south of Louisiana’s Vermilion Bay. It’s location is considered shallow water, much less than the approximately 5,000 feet where BP’s well spewed oil and gas for three months after the April rig explosion.

Responding to any oil spill in shallow water would be much easier than in deep water, where crews depend on remote-operated vehicles access equipment on the sea floor.

The rig is a fixed platform that was in production at the time of the fire, according to a homeland security operational update obtained by The Associated Press.