Photo credit: mikebaird via Flickr/CC BY
While there's still some fuzziness around what precisely caused the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to explode -- a series of malfunctions, design flaws, and human errors all played a role -- we can agree all agree on one thing: Poor oversight and shoddy regulation enabled the situation to reach critical mass. But that's all behind us, right? I mean, the Obama administration has lifted the ban on offshore drilling, after assuring us that from now on, safety will be a priority. Whew. Well, wait a minute -- what's this noise we're hearing about BP having another "ticking time bomb" deepwater oil rig in the Gulf? One that both the company and the federal government refuse to disclose the safety documents for? Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard reports:
... BP's other major oil production platform in the Gulf, the one that watchdogs have called a "ticking time bomb" ignored by federal regulators. The BP Atlantis platform is operating in deeper waters and is extracting more oil from the Gulf each day than the Deepwater Horizon well leaked, but neither the company nor the feds have proved it is safe.Evidently, a whistle-blowing contractor named Kenneth Abbott, who worked on the platform until just last year, claims that "more than 7,000 documents necessary to operate the platform safely are missing or incomplete". Many of its safety systems are out of date, and a number of its design schematics were never properly approved.
Located 124 miles off the Louisiana coast, the Atlantis platform produces 200,000 barrels of oil daily, more than triple the amount of oil that spilled from the Horizon site each day. But long before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a whistleblowing former BP contractor tipped off regulators that the Atlantis may be violating the law, and environmental groups and members of Congress have been publicly questioning the platform's safety ever since.
Read the rest of Sheppard's story for more details on how exactly BP and the contracting companies have sidestepped having to provide adequate safety information -- it all starts to sound a whole lot like deja vu all over again.