Total looks to put workers on leaking platform

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LONDON (AP) — French energy company Total said Monday that it was working to return workers to the Elgin platform in the North Sea to try to stop a gas leak.

Total said it was consulting with Britain's Health and Safety Executive to agree conditions for putting people aboard the platform, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) off the Scottish coast.

The 238 people stationed on the platform were evacuated a week ago.

Once aboard, Total says workers can begin preparations for efforts to control the well by pumping in heavy mud.

The company is also working on a second operation which would involve drilling a relief well. Total says it has hired three rigs and a ship to execute its plans.

"The group is committed to mobilizing all technical, human and financial means to resolve these issues as quickly as possible," Patrick de la Chevardiere, chief financial officer at Total, told a press conference.

The leak is pouring 200,000 cubic meters of gas into the atmosphere every day, but Chevardiere said the environmental impact of the leak is minimal.

"There's no crude oil involved here and therefore the current impact on and risk for the environment are relatively low. In addition, the leak is at the well head of the platform, above and not under water," he said.

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