The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)foodandwaterwatch(dot)org.

Salazar: Close Atlantis Today or Get Out of the Way

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter


"The first official response to Food & Water Watch's request for a federal court order to halt the operation of BP's Atlantis oil drilling facility until critical safety documents are produced paints a telling picture of how the U.S. Minerals Management Service MMS will operate under U.S. Interior Secretary Salazar's leadership: More of the same.

"In its response last week, the MMS stated that it has the sole discretion to decide whether to shut down Atlantis, and that a court can not make it do so. It also stated that it expects the investigation into Atlantis will take three months. In reality, this is a simple examination that requires the agency to review BP's document databases. It should take mere days, not months.

"Significantly, the response does not deny that regulations require as-built documents for subsea components, nor does it deny that that the absence of engineer-approved, as-built drawings make this rig unsafe and a threat to the Gulf.

"Furthermore, the response admits that here has been no meaningful investigation in over a year since they were first notified of safety deficiencies.

"The agency is simply dragging its feet.

"Their inability to close a rig that is operating without any evidence of safety, especially in light of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, has led us to conclude that Secretary Salazar is serving oil interests, not the public interest. The MMS will not be substantively different under his leadership than under his predecessor in the Bush administration, despite heavy handed rhetoric to the contrary."

"President Obama should demand his resignation and find someone who will regulate the industry-starting with the shut-in of Atlantis until it is proven to operate safely."

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500