Part of the sleeping quarters of the Piper Alpha oil platform that exploded last summer, killing 167 men, has been recovered from the bed of the North Sea, Occidental Petroleum said Tuesday.
The accomodation block is one of two that sank in the explosion and fire on the platform July 6. The bodies of 112 men are thought to be in the two sleeping blocks and workers are trying to raise the second module from the seabed, Occidental said.During a break in bad weather Monday night, the first block was lifted onto a heavy vessel. A police team was flown out to the site, 120 miles northeast of Aberdeen, to search the block for bodies.
Occidental also said traces of polychlorinated biphenyls, a banned carcinogen known as PCBs, have been found in the wreckage of the Piper Alpha platform.
PCBs can be dangerous if they enter the food chain, and some scientists believe they lower resistance to infection and in concentrated doses could kill fish, seals and seabirds.
Nearly five tons of the chemicals, more than Europe's total annual discharge of PCBs into the North Sea, were contained in electrical transformers on the Piper Alpha.
The four transformers have not been located since the disaster although Occidental believes they are in a 150-foot-high pile of rubble on the seabed beneath the platform. The transformers were installed on the platform before the manufacture of PCBs was banned.
Occidental said recent tests found "extremely small" traces of PCBs, which were not a threat to human or marine life or the environment. The chemicals were found on the surface of the platform's main accommodation block.