Thursday, May 20, 2010

‘60 Minutes’ whistleblower sues to shut down BP’s ‘Atlantis’ Rig

HOUSTON - A whistleblower who appeared on the May 16 telecast of “CBS 60 Minutes” contending that the BP Atlantis platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is a disaster waiting to happen filed a lawsuit on May 17 aimed at shutting the rig down.
The suit seeks to force the federal government to halt operations at Atlantis, alleging that BP never reviewed critical engineering designs for the operation and is therefore risking another catastrophic accident that could dwarf the company's Deepwater Horizon spill.
The allegations about unsafe conditions on BP's Atlantis platform were first made in 2009, but they were laid out in fresh detail in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Houston against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Minerals Management Service, the agency responsible for regulating offshore drilling in the Gulf.
The whistleblower is Kenneth Abbott, a former project control supervisor contracted by BP who gave an interview to "60 Minutes.”
In a conversation last week with the ProPublica Web site, Abbott alleged that BP failed to review thousands of final design documents for systems and equipment on the Atlantis platform - meaning BP management never confirmed the systems were built as they were intended– and didn't properly file the documentation that functions as an instruction manual for rig workers to shut down operations in the case of a blowout or other emergency.
Abbott alleges that when he warned BP about the dangers presented by the missing documentation, the company ignored his concerns and instead emphasized saving money.
"There were hundreds, if not thousands, of drawings that hadn't been approved and to send drawings (to the rig) that hadn't been approved could result in catastrophic operator errors," Abbott told ProPublica.

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