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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Food & Water Watch
Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.
Food & Water Watch to BP: Consider Yourself on Notice
Group Formally Announces Plans to Sue BP and Feds for Violating the Law With Risky Atlantis Platform
HOUSTON, Texas - July 1 - As part of an on-going effort to shutter BP's Atlantis platform until it can be proven safe to operate, the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch today formally sent notice of its intent to sue both BP and the federal government for violating a slew of federal laws governing the BP Atlantis oil and gas platform.
In a letter sent today to BP and the U.S. Department of Interior, through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement - formerly known as the Mineral Management Service - Food & Water Watch and former-company-contractor-turned-whistleblower Ken Abbott indicate that BP has failed to maintain critical safety documents for Atlantis. This, as well as the federal government's failure to enforce environmental and worker safety regulations, poses a serious threat to public safety and the environment.
"BP has known about the problems with the Atlantis platform for years, and yet it has done nothing about it," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "Instead of fixing it, they just throw lawyers at it. Even following the horrific Horizon spill, BP still isn't taking safety seriously. Food & Water Watch is suing to shut Atlantis down before further damage can be inflicted upon this extremely vulnerable region."
In May, Food & Water Watch sued the Minerals Management Service for its failed oversight of the Atlantis facility, asking a federal court to order the agency to shut down the facility until proven safe. The organization withdrew the case when BP intervened a month later, complaining that the company should have received official notice of the alleged violations.
Today, in the letter by their attorneys, Food & Water Watch and Mr. Abbot fired back, reinitiating their suit to include BP as a defendant.
Food & Water Watch and Abbott allege that BP violated numerous agency regulations and terms of its leases. Moreover, these offences mean that the company could not possibly be in compliance with a recent federal agency order that companies certify that their Gulf of Mexico facilities are in compliance with all operating regulations. They also allege that the company is operating without an adequate oil spill response plan required by federal law.
The largest oil and natural gas platform in the world, Atlantis is located 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana, drilling at a depth of 7,000 feet. Last March, Mr. Abbott reported to the authorities that Atlantis has been operating without a large percentage of the engineer-approved documents needed for it to operate safely. BP management has even noted that an accident resulting from "catastrophic Operator errors" could occur on Atlantis due to its missing documents. A spill on the Atlantis platform could be many times larger than the calamity caused by the explosion and sinking of BP's Deepwater Horizon facility.
Food & Water Watch has been working with Mr. Abbott since last July to bring Atlantis's possible safety risk to light. At a hearing before Congress two weeks ago, Mr. Abbott testified that the an investigation of the matter, supposedly launched by the Minerals Management Service earlier this year, was not credible, as the agency was taking three months to investigate what it could in a matter of days.
Meanwhile, the movement in the Gulf region to close the Atlantis platform also gained momentum today. Food & Water Watch released a letter signed by 60 local organizations representing fishermen, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, social service organizations, faith-based organizations, small businesses, and neighborhood communities calling on Department of Interior head Ken Salazar to perform a proper investigation of Atlantis.