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Total gas leak: Scientists test marine impact at Elgin platform

Category: Scotland

Published: 6th Apr 2012 10:05:52

A team of scientists is due to begin a detailed environmental assessment of the ongoing gas leak at the Elgin platform in the North Sea.

A Scottish government marine research vessel will spend four days at the site.

Marine Scotland, Sepa, the Health and Safety Executive and Scottish Natural Heritage are among the bodies involved.

On Thursday, a team from the platform's operators Total flew to the installation by helicopter.

The eight people who boarded the Elgin, 150 miles east of Aberdeen, included three workers who were familiar with the installation and five others from a company called Wild Well Control which specialises in capping wells.

It was the first time anybody had been back to the platform since it was evacuated almost a fortnight ago.

They carried out a preliminary survey of the leak area, established zones which can be safely accessed and gathered data, before safely returning to Aberdeen.

Marine Scotland will oversee the environmental group set-up to examine the impact of the leak.

Scientists will begin collecting and analysing sea samples from the survey ship Alba na Mara.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "I welcome that a new environment group is now established which is considering all available data on the environmental impact of this incident.

"I have consistently highlighted the need for openness and transparency and am therefore extremely pleased that Total have made all information on surveillance flights and sampling analysis publicly available on their website.

"The environmental risk continues to be assessed as minimal at this stage."

All workers were removed from the platform when the leak was detected at the end of last month.

The company believes it is coming from a rock formation above the main reservoir, at a depth of 4,000m.

Air and sea exclusion zones were set up in the area after the leak began.

Total hopes to be able to carry out a "dynamic killing" of the leak. This would involve pumping heavy mud back in at high pressure in an attempt to stabilise the well, so it can then be plugged.

The ongoing situation is said to be costing Total an estimated $1.5m (£940,000) a day in lost production.

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BBC News, 2012. Total gas leak: Scientists test marine impact at Elgin platform [Online] (Updated 6th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1421023/Total-gas-leak-Scientists-test-marine-impact-at-Elgin-platform [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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