NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge was asked Monday to shut down a BP oil and gas platform that operated with incomplete and inaccurate engineering documents in the same part of the Gulf as the company's massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Houston says the U.S. Interior Department failed to investigate warnings of possible safety problems with BP's Atlantis platform.
Atlantis is stationed in 7,070 feet of water more than 150 miles south of New Orleans. It can produce 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of natural gas daily.
Citing BP documents, the lawsuit asserts that a blowout from Atlantis could be far worse than the Deepwater Horizon spill, which already ranks as one of the worst in the nation's history.
"In two days, a blowout from the BP Atlantis would spill more oil than the Exxon Valdez," an attorney for the plaintiffs wrote.
The lawsuit was filed by Washington, D.C.-based Food and Water Watch and Kenneth Abbott, a former BP subcontractor. Abbott claims he was fired last year after voicing concerns over Atlantis.
A spokeswoman for the Minerals Management Service, the Interior Department branch that oversees drilling in the Gulf, said the agency could not immediately respond to the lawsuit.
In 2009, an independent firm hired by BP found that the giant petroleum company was violating its own policies by not having completed engineering documents on board the Atlantis when it began operating in 2007.
BP did not immediately respond to telephone calls seeking comment, but the company said in a letter to Congress in January that Atlantis is compliant with all federal requirements.
"BP has reviewed the allegations and found them to be unsubstantiated," managing attorney for BP Karen K. Westall wrote.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)