This video is from a segment on 60 Minutes that was aired Sunday May 16, 2010. The discussion is mostly about what happened with Deep Horizen in the Gulf of Mexico, interviewing one of the survivors, but it also addresses another great concern which is an much larger oil rig owned by BP that is even further out in the Gulf and MUCH deeper (over 7,000 feet).
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This video blew me away.
The whistleblower’s name is Kenneth Abbott, a former project control supervisor contracted by BP. He filed suit on May 17th “to force the federal government to halt operations at another massive BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, 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.” More:
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. “They turned their eye away from their responsibility to make sure the overall design works. Instead they are having bits and pieces fabricated and they are just hoping that these contractors who make all these separate pieces can pull it together and make it safe. The truth is these contractors see a piece of the puzzle; they don’t see the whole thing.”
Congress and the Minerals and Management Service have been investigating Abbott’s concerns since last year, when he and Food and Water Watch, an environmental organization based in Washington, D.C., first filed the complaints. But according to both Abbott and FWW, little has been done. After the Deepwater Horizon Gulf spill underscored their concerns, they decided to jointly file the lawsuit. Abbott was laid off shortly after he raised the concerns to BP management.
According to the lawsuit, by Nov. 28, 2008, when Abbott last had access to BP’s files, only half of the 7,176 drawings detailing Atlantis’ sub-sea equipment had been approved for design by an engineer and only 274 had been approved “as built,” meaning they were checked and confirmed to meet quality and design standards and the documentation made available to the rig crew. Ninety percent of the design documents, the suit alleges, had never been approved at all.
The Atlantis rig is even larger than the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank in April. It began producing oil in 2007 and can produce 8.4 million gallons a day.
The components include some of the critical infrastructure to protect against a spill. According the suit, none of the sub-sea risers – the pipelines and hoses that serve as a conduit for moving materials from the bottom of the ocean to the facility — had been “issued for design.” The suit also alleges that none of the wellhead documents were approved, and that none of the documents for the manifolds that combine multiple pipeline flows into a single line at the seafloor had been reviewed for final use.
Directions for how to use the piping and instrument systems that help shut down operations in the event of an emergency, as well as the computer software used to enact an emergency shutdown, had also not been approved, the lawsuit says. According to the lawsuit, 14 percent those documents had been approved for construction, and none received final approval to ensure they were built and functioning properly.
“BP’s worst-case scenario indicates that an oil spill from the BP Atlantis Facility could be many times larger than the current oil spill from the BP Deepwater Horizon,” the lawsuit states. “The catastrophic Horizon oil spill would be a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the potential size of a spill from the BP Atlantis facility.”
Can you even imagine…
If they don’t have the technology or safety features nailed down in order to be able to stop this massive leak from the Deep Horizon (which has been amply demonstrated), why would anyone allow drilling to continue with this other, larger rig—owned and run by the same people who are apparently skipping corners there as well—in much deeper water, with a MUCH greater output..
What are they thinking? (I know…, dollars). What are WE thinking by letting them!
As Gorette at The Daily Kos said, “Until regulators can “prove” that Atlantis, the Gulf’s second largest oil rig is safe, it should be shut down. ”
Amen to that.
Other articles concerning Atlantis:
U.S. Should Shut BP Atlantis Platform, Lawmaker Says – Bloomberg
Why Obama Must Shut Down BP Atlantis – Huffington Post
Lawmakers Call on Gov’t to Shut Down BP Atlantis – MotherJones