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June 2nd, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Concerns over another BP oil rig in the Gulf

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.

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Tookie

    Does this sound like where there is smoke there is fire? That
    ounce of prevention warning is beginning to seep out like black
    gold. They say that this new oil rig is going to make The
    Gulf spill look like a postage stamp. If we continue to
    concentrate our concerns on both the smaller and larger
    picture we may just avert a worse cataclysm. One thing
    is clear, all of us have to help to make this situation better
    in whatever way we can. Are you up to it folks?

    June 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  2. alfred

    They would not be able to safely shut down operation on Atlantis. They may say they can, I say you must prove you have full control of the wellhead at all times. It should be imperative that you demonstrate you can shut down an oil well and every rig that is not able will fail when things go wrong and they will. It is only a matter of time. We must kill all wells that can not shut down with the wells control valve system. This should not even be debatable{{:>)

    June 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  3. Alan

    It's time to turn to renewable energy! We live a solar lifestyle: solar electric and solar hot water on our roof and even our 100% electric vehicle is solar powered! We haven't paid for electricity or gasoline in 8 years! When are people going to see that we don't need dirty oil; we just think we do because the oil billionaires brainwash us into thinking we do!

    June 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  4. naomi

    If BP were really sorry for what has happened in the Gulf, they would have immediately stopped any rig that is in question. They just do not care! If it happens again, I shutter to think what will happen to anyone associated with BP! Citizens have been known to go postal when their patience is up!

    June 4, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  5. lesness

    Assuming that it is all about the money and believing that shutting down"deep water" drilling in the Gulf will resolve the real problem is a simple, but inaccurate perspective. Shutting down drilling affects everyone not just BP and unless you live in a cave, it will affect you directly too.

    June 4, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  6. ronvan

    As I have said before folks: IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT THE $$$!
    EVERY decision that BP makes is based on how much it will cost them. At this point, EVERYONE, should be able to make a sound decision that "deep water" drilling should be stopped! We have already "destroyed" the gulf, for years to come. Also I would have already taken control of BP's $$$ & assets, to be distributed to those states affected, and for those that will be affective. I do not care if BP goes bankrupt, if they do it will send a strong message to the other oil companies that want to take short cuts to make more $$$.

    June 3, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  7. Dianne

    These states governments, and Senators do not want the President to stop offshore drilling. I saw them on interviews on CNN and MSNBC. They want drilling to continue even though the knowledge is not there if this happens again. That does not make sense at this time. If it happens, the President has to accept blame. Be real.

    June 3, 2010 at 7:24 am |
  8. Grouper Head

    You watch all the coverage and wonder are we that stupid...we let companies drill offshore with waivers and no ability to correct problems when they happen....we also look at cleanup and ask is that what it will take to fix this...why didn't we ask this before it happened why don't we stop drilling until we show that we can correct what is currently going on...we need to get a solution and thing real hard about what we will do next before we drill anything in the gulf.
    What is the end all on this oil spill the reality is we have wiped out the fishing industry in the gulf people in the gulf stream area who rely on the ocean for food are going to starve.The toxic issues surrounding the all ready sick people helping with the oil spill is going to grow all through the gulf .
    Insane doesn't even start to explain this issue and the long term effects have not even been touched.
    Finally the company that created this is stumbling over solutions its like watch someone kill something and doing nothing.......

    June 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  9. nancy

    "...This platform [Atlantis],” they wrote, “may be operating without crucial engineering documents, which, if absent, would increase the risk of a catastrophic accident..."

    IMAGINE THAT???????

    June 2, 2010 at 10:37 am |