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27 March 2012
BP's Atlantis Platform in Gulf of Mexico Faces "Present and Imminent Danger"
whistleblower argues that BP’s Atlantis Project faces “present and imminent
danger.” The Atlantis platform, located
190 miles south of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico in 7,070 feet (2,150
meters) of water, is the deepest moored floating dual oil and gas production
facility in the world. Weighing 58,700
tons, the platform has a daily production capacity of 200,000 barrels of oil
and 180 million cubic feet of gas. Just
after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010, the United States consumer
advocacy group Food and Water Watch published an article warning about safety
and environmental concerns relating to the Atlantis platform. (Extracts from article published on 17 March
2012 by Common Dreams.)
Whistleblower: BP Oil Platform Faces 'Present and
Whistleblower claims about BP's Atlantis
filed this week argue against Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's claims
platform is safe
- Common Dreams staff
A whistleblower who has a standing lawsuit against BP
has argued this week that the company's Atlantis Project, located 150 miles
south of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico, faces "present and imminent
danger." The whistleblower, Kenneth
Abbott, is a former BP contractor on the Atlantis. His lawsuit says that BP
failed to keep required records of the safety systems for the Atlantis.
WASHINGTON - April 22 (2010) - Following Tuesday's
explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Platform, leased and operated by British
Petroleum (BP) in the Gulf of Mexico, the national consumer advocacy group Food and Water Watch is warning of the possibility of a similarly tragic disaster
involving the company's Atlantis Project- one of the world's deepest
semi-submersible oil and natural gas platforms, located 150 miles south of New
Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.
Last year, a whistleblower and former company
contractor alleged that the Atlantis platform has been operating without a
large percentage of the engineer-approved documents needed for it to operate
safely. An independent engineer later substantiated these concerns, concluding
that a BP database showed that over 85 percent of the Atlantis Project's Piping
and Instrument drawings lacked final engineer-approval, and that the project
should be immediately shut down until those documents could be accounted for
and are independently verified.
"The tragic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon
platform is an urgent reminder of the calamity that could occur if BP's
Atlantis platform is operating without the approved documents necessary for
ensuring its safety," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food
& Water Watch. "This accident and the recent Massey mine disaster in
West Virginia underscore a complete lack of regulatory oversight over the
operations of the fossil fuel industry."
BP has denied the whistleblower's assertions regarding
Atlantis, going so far as to write a letter to Congressional staff saying that
they are "unsubstantiated," even though internal documents show that
in August 2008, BP management was aware of the problems and believed that the
document deficiencies "could lead to catastrophic Operator error." An
investigation conducted by the company's Ombudsman in April 2009 seems to
substantiate the charges, although the investigation's results did not become
known until this month. BP has never acknowledged that the Ombudsman conducted
an investigation of the project's document deficiencies.
"BP's recklessness in regards to the Atlantis
project is a clear example of how the company has a pattern of failing to
comply with minimum industry standards for worker and environmental
safety," said Mike Sawyer, an Engineer at Apex Safety Consultants, who
verified the contractor-turned-whistleblower's concerns about the company's
lack of proper documents.
In March 2010, the Minerals Management Service (MMS),
the agency charged with overseeing the nation's offshore oil and gas platforms,
announced that it would investigate these allegations in response to a letter
from Representative Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and 18 of his colleagues calling
for an investigation and a report on the findings issued to Congress. Food
& Water Watch brought the situation to Representative Grijalva's attention
in October of 2009.
Last week, Food and Water Watch submitted a letter
to MMS detailing the key issues that need to be addressed with MMS's
investigation, highlighting the recently-surfaced information about BP's own
Ombudsman investigation. The organization called on MMS to conduct a thorough
investigation of the situation, including interviewing the contractor-turned
whistleblower who unearthed these potential safety hazards, and to penalize BP
to the fullest extent of the law.
"The accident on
the Horizon platform further highlights the importance of MMS's investigation
of the Atlantis Project, as well as its regulation of offshore drilling
activities in that area.As energy companies push to
open more of the Outer Continental Shelf, MMS needs to make sure that companies
like BP are operating safely and adhering to the law. If the agency does not
adequately do so with its investigation of the BP Atlantis Project, the House
Natural Resources Committee needs to hold oversight hearings and ensure that
the explosion and mishap of the Horizon platform is not replicated," said
Zach Corrigan, Food & Water Watch's senior staff attorney.