Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are considering whether to bar BP from receiving government contracts, a move that would ultimately cost the company billions in revenue and could end its drilling in federally controlled oil fields. Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways. That strategy may no longer work.
A whistleblower filed suit Monday to force the federal government to halt operations at another massive BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging that BP never reviewed critical engineering designs for the operation and is therefore risking another catastrophic accident that could “dwarf” the company’s Deepwater Horizon spill. Former project control supervisor Kenneth Abbott alleged that BP never confirmed systems and equipment on the Atlantis platform were built as intended and didn’t properly file the documentation that functions as an instruction manual for rig workers in the case of a blowout or other emergency.
The chemicals BP is using to break up the steady flow of leaking oil fin the Gulf of Mexico could create a new set of environmental problems. BP has deployed an estimate 100,000 gallons to dissolve the crude oil, both on the surface and deep below. Dispersal is considered one of the best ways to protect birds and keep the slick from making landfall. But the chemicals contain harmful toxins of their own and can concentrate leftover oil toxins in the water, where they can kill fish and migrate great distances.