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Kenneth Abbott, Whistleblower, Sues to Stop BP Atlantis

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By Jason Beahm on May 19, 2010 10:45 AM

A lawsuit was filed yesterday by whistleblower Kenneth Abbott, a former project control supervisor contracted by BP. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Houston, alleges that BP failed to analyze engineering designs for the operation of a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

On 60 Minutes Sunday night and in an interview last week with ProPublica, Abbott alleges that BP failed to review thousands of final design documents on the BP Atlantis platform. If true, this means that BP never verified that the systems were built properly and as intended. Abbott alleges that BP is risking another major oil spill that could be far worse than the current spill in the Gulf, calling the current spill a "bubble in the water" compared to the hazard posed by BP Atlantis. The Atlantis oil rig is larger than the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank in the Gulf.

According to the lawsuit, "The catastrophic Horizon oil spill would be a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the potential size of a spill from the BP Atlantis facility."

Kenneth Abbott filed the lawsuit against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Minerals and Management Service. According to Abbott, when he informed BP of the matters that eventually led to the lawsuit, they ignored him and focused instead on cost savings. 

In his interview with ProPublica, Abbott was adamant that the rig could result in catastrophe: "They turned their eye away from their responsibility to make sure the overall design works. Instead they are having bits and pieces fabricated and they are just hoping that these contractors who make all these separate pieces can pull it together and make it safe. The truth is these contractors see a piece of the puzzle; they don't see the whole thing," Abbott said. 

BP has not issued a recent response or statement on the matter, though they covered the matter in a January letter to Congress, stating that Abbott's allegations are without merit. 

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