A Message from Executive Director Wenonah Hauter on the Threat of BP’s Atlantis Oil Platform
It’s time for the government to take action to prevent one of the world’s largest oil and gas platforms from causing a catastrophic accident in the Gulf of Mexico. Atlantis, owned by British Petroleum (BP), lacks many required certification documents and poses a dire threat to the Gulf’s communities.
Located about 150 miles off the coast of New Orleans, Atlantis runs 7000 feet deep and produces 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of gas every day. Without engineer-approved documentation for 85% of its piping, instrument and safety shutdown systems, there is concern that Atlantis may have serious design problems. These deficiencies could increase the risk of devastating operator errors and would cause harm to platform workers, the marine environment, and local fishing communities.
Atlantis is dangerously positioned in “hurricane alley” where ocean and weather experts predict a 70% chance of nine to 14 tropical storms this year. These storms, with potential to turn into hurricanes, can wreak havoc on energy platforms in the Gulf. Sixty platforms were destroyed in 2008 alone as a result of two hurricanes. The resulting oil spills harm the plants and animals at the base of the marine food chain, affecting everything that relies on them, including the $32 billion commercial fishing and $60 billion coastal tourism and recreation industries.
The Department of Interior’s Mineral Management Services (MMS) is responsible for regulating offshore drilling but has not responded to concerns about Atlantis as we continue further into hurricane season. Atlantis began operating in October 2007 during the Bush Administration, and Food & Water Watch urges the MMS to suspend production in order to investigate the reasoning behind the platform’s operation without proper safety documentation.
Fear of an unprecedented disaster due to incomplete documentation arose last fall during the near sinking of BP’s Thunder Horse Platform. The repercussions of damage to Atlantis would be too great to risk letting BP continually evade the law. Food & Water Watch, along with its activists, is calling on the government to take action while there is still time to prevent a terrible disaster.