By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN
(CNN) – Could things get any worse for BP? Maybe. As the oil continues to flow, some are charging that another BP operation in the Gulf is an even bigger disaster in the making.
For six months, Ken Abbott managed BP’s engineering documents for "Atlantis," BP’s deep water platform nearly 200 miles south of New Orleans. He turned into a BP whistle-blower in February 2009 after finding what he says were thousands of Atlantis engineering documents and drawings that were neither complete nor reviewed properly by BP. That, Sawyer now says, was a serious safety violation.
Abbott and his lawyer quickly hired Mike Sawyer, a safety engineer consultant, who examined the BP documents in question. Sawyer tells CNN that oil rig “engineering drawings and specification are the primary means that workers use to ensure that they can operate the platform safely, and can ensure that they can shut it down or at least control any unsafe event.” Atlantis’ engineering documents and drawings, says Sawyer, were so incomplete that he fears another environmental disaster from BP.
Abbott shared his information with Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, who found it so disturbing that he and 18 other lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency that regulates the oil industry.
"...This platform [Atlantis],” they wrote, “may be operating without crucial engineering documents, which, if absent, would increase the risk of a catastrophic accident..."
BP told us in a statement it conducted its own investigation after Abbott filed a false claims lawsuit in 2009. The government declined to join that lawsuit. A few weeks ago, a judge ordered the case to go forward.
BP still insists though "Atlantis ... absolutely is safe..."
But, that's not enough any more. The consumer advocacy group Food and Water Watch posted this Web ad after joining forces with Abbott. Together, they've filed a lawsuit against MMS for failing to provide proof Atlantis is "absolutely safe."
Food and Water Watch’s Wenohah Hauter says, “BP Atlantis should be shut down until the safety information can be verified ... [and] there should be an investigation of all the operating platforms, beginning with BP’s, to be sure that their safety information is available and is in order.”
But the Obama administration – and MMS – have no plans to order Atlantis to halt operations. MMS now says it has “launched its own investigation into safety operations on the Atlantis..."
A congressional committee will hold hearings on this matter June 17th. Sawyer will brief lawmakers. Whistle-blower Ken Abbott will be in Washington too, testifying in front of a congressional committee about his concerns that Atlantis is not safe.