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Congressional letter to MMS on BP Atlantis

Congressional letter to MMS on BP Atlantis

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: frajam79 on May 14, 2010
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07/27/2010

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Qtnngrcnn
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tije
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20515
February
24,
2010Ms.
Elizabeth
Bimbaum,Director
MineralsManagement
ServiceDepartment
of
the
Interior
1849
CStreet,
N.W.
Washington,DC
20240Dear
DirectorBimbaum:
In
recent
months,
wehaveheard
disturbing
reports
regarding
British
Petroleum’s(BP)
Atlantisplatformin
the
Gulf
of
Mexico.
This
platform,
the
largest
oil
and
natural
gas
platform
in
the
world,
may
be
operating
without
crucialengineering
documents,
which,
if
absent,
would
increase
the
risk
of
a
catastrophicaccident
that
would
threatennot
only
the
workers
onthe
platform,
but
also
the
Gulfof
Mexico
and
the
communities
who
dependon
the
resources
it
provides.In
March
2009,
a
whistleblowernotified
the
Minerals
ManagementService
(MMS)
that
he
believed
BP
did
not
have
requiredengineer-approveddrawings
for
BP
Atlantis’s
subsea
components.
Industry
standards
and
federal
regulations
require
the
company
to
have
these
documents
before
any
platform
can
start
production.
These
include
“as-built”
drawings,
which
are
essentially
an
operator’s
guide
to
how
the
platform
components
work
from
startuptoshut
down
and
are
critical
for
operators
tohave
at
their
disposal.
A
review
of
BP’s
database
in
existence
at
that
time
and
providedby
the
whistleblower
appears
toshowthat
of
the
over
7,176documents
and
drawings
for
Atlantis’s
subsea
components
---
a
total
of
6,393
of
them
---
over
90%
---
maynot
have
been
approved
by
a
professional
engineer,
as
requiredbyregulation.
BP’s
own
internal
communication
indicatesthatusing
incompleteor
inaccuratedocuments
“could
leadto
catastrophic
Operator
errors
due
to
their
assuming
the
drawing
is
correct.”
We
are
also
concernedthat
yourinterpretation
of
30
C.F.R.
§
250.903(a)(1),
and
its
application
toapproval
of
operations
at
Atlantis
indicates
a
less
thanacceptablestandard.
Specifically,
communications
between
MMS
and
congressional
staff
havesuggested
that
while
the
companybylaw
must
malntain
“as-built”
documents,
thereisno
requirement
that
such
documents
be
completeor
accurate.
This
statement,
if
an
accurate
interpretation
of
MMS
authorities,
raises
serious
concerns.
MMS
owes
it
to
allAmerican
taxpayersto
fully
investigate
the
allegations
made
relatedto
environmental
and
safety
standards
of
domestic
offshore
energy
production.
The
urgency
of
these
allegations
is
highlighted
by
the
recent
oil
spill
in
the
Timor
Sea
that,
according
to
onesource,
leaked2000barrels
per
day
for
10
weeksbefore
it
was
finally
stopped
after
five
attempts
by
the
operator.
These
accidents
are
a
reminder
that
even
as
drilling
technology
and
clean-upmethods
have
improved
thereis
still
a
considerable
risk
to
the
environment,
and
public
health
and
safetyprecautions
should
be
taken
seriouslybyboth
MMS
and
industry.
PRINTCD
ON
RECYCLED
PAPER
 
The
MMS
hasan
obligation
and
a
duty
to
ensure
thatnatural
resource
extraction
from
public
landsand
the
outer
Continental
Shelf
is
done
with
the
utmost
concern
for
the
environment
and
the
health
and
safety
of
workers
andthe
public.
Making
sure
that
these
standards
are
adhered
to
will
take
onadded
importance
as
the
nation
sets
its
sights
on
a
national
agenda
of
energyindependence.
It
is
critical
thatwe
get
this
right.We
urge
MMS
to
conduct
a
full
investigation
of
whether
British
Petroleum
had
a
complete
andaccurate
set
of
required
engineeringdrawings
for
the
BP
Atlantisplatform
and
its
associated
subsea
components
prior
to
the
start
of
production
from
that
platform,
and
to
report
back
toCongress
onthe
results
of
that
investigation
as
soon
as
possible.We
alsorequest
that
MMS
describehow
a
regulation
thatrequires
offshore
operatorsto
maintain
certain
engineering
documents,but
does
not
require
that
those
documents
be
completeor
accurate,is
appropriatelyprotective
of
human
health
andthe
environment.We
look
forward
tohearing
from
you
about
this
matter.
~,
~
__
RA
-,
.
GRIJALV
EDWARD
I.
MA~
KEY
Member
of
Congress
Member
of
Congress
RUSH
D.
HOLT
•ONNA
M.RISTENSENMember
of
Congress
Member
of
Congress
,1’
~
4
~
K.
HIRONO
DENNIS
3.
KU
ICHMember
of
Congress
Member
of
Congress
0..
_
DONALD
M.PAYNE
CORRINE
BROWN
Member
of
Congress
Member
of
Congress
a
ICMA
‘~‘
FARR
Member
of
Member
of
Congress
MICHAEL
M.
HONDA
MAXINE
WATERSMember
of
Congress
Member
of
Congress

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