Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oil Exploded!

An oil platform exploded and burned off the Louisiana coast Thursday, the second such disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in less than five months. This time, the Coast Guard said there was no leak, and no one was killed.
The Coast Guard initially reported that an oil sheen a mile long and 100 feet wide had begun to spread from the site of the blast, about 200 miles west of the source of BP's massive spill. But hours later, Coast Guard Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau said crews were unable to find any spill.
The company that owns the platform, Houston-based Mariner Energy, did not know what caused the explosion.
Mariner officials said there were seven active production wells on the platform, and they were shut down shortly before the fire broke out.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the company told him the fire began in 100 barrels of light oil condensate, but officials did not know yet what sparked the flames.
The Coast Guard said Mariner Energy reported the oil sheen. In a public statement, the company said an initial flyover did not show any oil.
Photos from the scene showed at least five ships floating near the platform. Three of them were shooting great plumes of water onto the machinery. Light smoke could be seen drifting across the deep blue waters of the gulf.
By late afternoon, the fire on the platform was out.
The platform is in about 340 feet of water and about 100 miles south of Louisiana's Vermilion Bay. Its 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 that killed 11 workers.
Responding to any oil spill in shallow water would be much easier than in deep water, where crews depend on remote-operated vehicles to access equipment on the sea floor.
A Homeland Security update obtained by The Associated Press said the platform was producing 58,800 gallons of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The platform can store 4,200 gallons of oil.

Farm life

Stolen credit cards and jewelry belonging to the slain Polk County organic farmers were taken by their 20-year-old son, leading authorities to determine that the son and his girlfriend plotted to kill his parents for money, officials said Wednesday.

"They were desperate for money, so robbery was the motive," Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said.
A scythe and a metal pipe were used to kill David Scott Jondle, 61, and his wife, Marilyn Jondle, 58, who were found dead Tuesday morning in their home at 16055 Gilliam Road, about three miles south of Dallas.
Autopsies on Wednesday confirmed that David Jondle died from multiple stab wounds from a scythe, Wolfe said. Marilyn Jondle died from blunt-force trauma from a metal pipe. Both weapons were recovered at the farm, Wolfe said.
Late Tuesday morning, their son Andrew Jondle, 20, and his girlfriend, Cindy Lou Beck, 46, were arrested in a southeast Salem apartment complex.
Wolfe said Andrew Jondle and Beck conspired to kill the Jondles to get money.
Andrew Jondle acted alone in attacking his parents sometime Monday night between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Credit cards and jewelry were taken to use for paying back rent, Wolfe said.
Beck helped dispose of Andrew Jondle's bloody clothing before the two were arrested Tuesday, Wolfe said. The next day, investigators were going through garbage piles to recover the evidence.
Beck was charged with hindering prosecution, as well as two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. Andrew Jondle is facing two counts of aggravated murder. Both are set to appear in Polk County Circuit Court today.
The Jondles moved to Oregon in 2000 from California after David Scott Jondle, a former Silicon Valley software engineer who often went by his middle name, decided to start a sustainable organic farm dedicated to the farming practices written by Joel Salatin. Salatin is a writer and farmer who dedicated himself to locally produced food and was featured in the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma."
The Jondles ran a well-known sustainable organic farm, Abundant Life Farm. Andrew Jondle was home-schooled by his mother and later worked for his parents on the farm.

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Mystery Driver!

The opaque visor of one of Britain's most famous helmets has been lifted.
The identity of The Stig, the always-anonymous test driver on the popular television show "Top Gear," has long been a closely guarded secret. On Wednesday, lawyers said the BBC had been refused an injunction blocking publication of a book revealing the identity of the character.
Shortly after, publishers HarperCollins said in a statement that a 33-year-old racing driver named Ben Collins "has a great story to tell about his seven years as The Stig, which will appeal to a wide audience beyond just motoring enthusiasts."
Calling it a "victory for freedom of speech," HarperCollins said the book will be published in Britain on Sept. 16.
The white-suited Stig is the second in the role; the first Stig, who wore a black suit and helmet, was Perry McCarthy. He left the show in 2003 after his identity was revealed.
The show has a long-standing policy of not commenting on The Stig's identity. A "Top Gear" spokeswoman said no decision has been made on whether the character will be back when the show returns.
"Top Gear" is one of the BBC's most successful programs, and is seen in more than 100 countries around the world. Alongside the show's three garrulous hosts, The Stig is an always-silent presence, fearlessly navigating the show's test track in glamorous cars.
Speculation over his identity is a favorite pastime for fans of the show, and the "Top Gear" website sells T-shirts proclaiming "I am The Stig," "I am not The Stig," and "I am The Stig's fat cousin," among others.
"The whole point of The Stig is the mystique — the bizarre characteristics he has, the wonderment created about what he might think, feel, do or look like," producer Andy Wilman said in a post on the show's website. "Kids adore the conceit, and I believe adults, although they know it's a man in a suit (or is it?) gladly buy into the whole conceit because they find it entertaining."
The Stig's Facebook page — which more than 2.5 million people "like" — says he was recently attacked by a goose, that his ears "are not where you would expect them to be," and that he thinks the movie "Star Wars" is a documentary.
The BBC said it sought the injunction — the hearing was held in private — because viewers like the mystery surrounding the driver's identity and it's "vital to protect the character of The Stig."
The broadcaster said that the judgment does not prevent them from taking the issue further in the courts.
'The BBC will not be deterred from protecting such information from attack no matter when or by whom it should arise," the broadcaster said in a statement.
Collins' website says he has raced on the Formula Three and NASCAR circuits, and drove James Bond's Aston Martin in the 2008 film "Quantum of Solace."

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