The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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


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

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

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

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.

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