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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 19:50 GMT
Diver makes 1.2m explosion claim
Buchan oil field
Adam Blackden was involved in an explosion on the Buchan oil field
A former oil industry diver is seeking 1.2m damages amid claims he was traumatised by a fatal seabed accident.

Adam Blackden, 40, was part of a three-man diving team in the North Sea when his colleague, Christopher Hill, was killed after an underwater explosion.

He claims he suffers a phobic anxiety to diving and has post-traumatic stress disorder and is now unfit to work.

He is suing Aberdeen-based Stolt Offshore for compensation in an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Mr Blackden was working in the Buchan oil field in August 1999 as part of a team when the incident occurred.

Burning gear

The three-strong group was working at a depth of 120 metres on a wellhead and was told at a briefing to remove the pipe with burning gear.

He told the court they were not expecting the instruction as it could prove dangerous as gas can get trapped in such situations.

The 60,000-a-year saturation diver said the response to the briefing was: "You are joking."

Mr Blackden said the whole team had questioned their orders but added they were told it had been cleared.

He went down in a diving bell with Mr Hill and another diver, John Dodds.

There was the biggest explosion I have heard in my life
Adam Blackden
Diver

Mr Blackden, of Slip End, Bedfordshire, remained in the bell and could hear the divers talking to each other as they worked.

But he said: "There was the biggest explosion I have heard in my life."

At first he thought the bell had hit the underwater structure and said: "I felt it shake and reverberate.

"I gathered my thoughts and realised it was obviously an explosion and a very serious one."

He thought he might have to try and rescue the duo but he heard Mr Dodds had located Mr Hill with his helmet off.

'Big problems'

"When I heard that I knew we had big, big problems," he said.

"You have got a very limited time to get him back to the bell and into an environment where he can breathe."

They managed to get Mr Hill back into the bell but could not find a pulse.

Attempts were made to resuscitate him and Mr Blackden told the court: "I could taste his blood from the mouth-to-mouth."

They also failed to get a seal on the door of the diving bell and Mr Blackden said they were in "a horrific situation" and were fighting for their lives.

The entrance was eventually sealed and the vessel was brought to the surface.

Numbed

Mr Blackden agreed that he was not physically injured in the incident but said that when he returned home afterwards he was "numb".

He thought the best way to deal with it was a stiff-upper lip and getting on with things.

He thought he would take some time off and lick his wounds, but said he had never been able to return to diving.

Stolt is contesting the action. It maintains he did not suffer physical injury and was not in danger.

It claims he is exaggerating the nature and extent of his symptoms, if any, and the sum requested is excessive.

The hearing before Lord Brodie continues.


SEE ALSO:
Inquiry into rig diver's death
07 Aug 99 |  UK News


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