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Intro: "A whistleblower is alleging for the first time in a yearslong lawsuit against BP that its massive Atlantis oil platform operation off the Louisiana coast faces present and imminent danger. Kenneth Abbott first complained in 2009 that BP had failed to keep required records of the design of pressure-relief systems and other safety mechanisms onboard the Atlantis."

BP Atlantis platform. (photo: BP website)
BP Atlantis platform. (photo: BP website)



Whistleblower: BP Oil Platform Present, Imminent Danger

By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune

19 March 12

 

whistleblower is alleging for the first time in a yearslong lawsuit against BP that its massive Atlantis oil platform operation off the Louisiana coast faces present and imminent danger. Kenneth Abbott first complained in 2009 that BP had failed to keep required records of the design of pressure-relief systems and other safety mechanisms onboard the Atlantis.

His lawsuit in Houston drew national attention in the aftermath of the April 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well near the tip of Louisiana.

Subsequently, the U.S. government joined in some of his claims when an independent reviewer justified many of Abbott's complaints. But BP, and later the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, determined that the lack of safety records did not pose any imminent threat.

Abbott's latest filing in the Houston court this week argues otherwise. It also renews his push for BP to unseal crucial filings in the case.

Abbott served as a BP contractor on Atlantis, a $2 billion oil-and-gas production rig 190 miles south of New Orleans, when he discovered the deficient documentation. He reported to a BP ombudsman in 2009 that the rig didn't maintain required "as-built" drawings of the systems and structures on the rig.

The ombudsman, retired federal Judge Stanley Sporkin, later substantiated Abbott's complaints. Abbott filed suit against BP, contending the lack of drawings made operations unsafe, and against the former U.S. regulatory agency, Minerals Management Service, for failing to enforce its regulations. The idea behind his case got a jolt when President Barack Obama said in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and gulf oil spill that the MMS had a "cozy relationship" with the industry it was supposed to regulate.

The environmental group Food and Water Watch joined in Abbott's lawsuit in Houston, which alleges violations of the False Claims Act and is still awaiting a hearing.

But the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a report in March 2011 that declared the Atlantis rig safe, in spite of its failure to maintain proper records on board. Food and Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter blasted the regulating agency for blowing a chance to show it had truly broken with its MMS past.

"The federal government dragged its feet on this investigation, and its findings are appalling - like a doctor's note for a truant student," she said. "They are a weak attempt to cover BP's foul play. After all this time, the public deserves better."

BP has consistently denied any safety problems at Atlantis, calling the drawings "a minor internal process issue," and taking credit for self-reporting and rectifying the deficiencies.

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+24 # MainStreetMentor 2012-03-19 08:47
BP's and EXXON's actions and cover-ups are as deadly as any cannon, perhaps worse in that their malfeasance affects a much wider scope of coverage. Greed has caused haste in their acquisition processes, and that in turn has caused short falls in judgement and application.
 
 
+4 # Vardoz 2012-03-19 15:46
Now we our at the tipping point of Global Warming and that will mean death to billions and mass extinction of the creatures of our tiny planet and us. Our oceans are now more acidic then they have been in 300 million years, fish are filled with Mercury, PCB's and numerous other toxins, the Earth is heating up much faster than the worst computer predictions and the bees are dying from pesticides. The list of the destruction and the murderous assault on us and our planet is very long and polluters just don't give a damn about anything. They want to take us all along with them on their suicidal trip into oblivion.
 
 
+3 # John Locke 2012-03-19 18:23
Yet with all this corruption of BP being exposed, BP is still receiving US Government contracts...Why , who are they bribing?
 
 
+4 # jwb110 2012-03-19 15:55
The Federal Gov't can't keep giving the fox the key to the henhouse.
 
 
+4 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-19 18:23
Why did Ken Salazar (Obama's Interior Secretary) appoint a former white collar defense lawyer to head an agency that was formed to implement reforms that strengthen requirements for corporate accountability (as well as workplace safety and other tasks it has also failed to achieve).

It sounds like he was appointed for his experience in protecting white collar criminals from accountability rather than protecting the rest of us against them.
 

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