ENVIRONMENT
07/23/2010 07:13 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dems Demand That Salazar Stop Dragging His Heels And Investigate BP Whistleblower Allegations

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar still has yet to conduct a formal interview with Ken Abbott, a whistleblower from BP's Atlantis rig where operators are allegedly missing engineering documentation essential to averting another oil rig disaster.

This week, House Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and 17 other members of Congress asked Salazar to sit down and talk to Abbott.

"A long, thorough investigation is certainly called for," wrote Slaughter and her colleagues, "but in the meantime... immediate steps are absolutely necessary in order to assure that the Atlantis does not turn into an even larger disaster than the Deepwater Horizon."

Abbott first brought his safety concerns before the Minerals Management Service last year, and this past June he testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals.

Lawmakers expressed dismay this week that Interior has not even attempted to confirm Abbott's allegations, instead letting the Atlantis continue operating only 190 miles south of New Orleans.

"If there is even a small chance that the Atlantis is a 'ticking time bomb' as some have called it, the pace at which the Department has worked to resolve the questions raised about the Atlantis' safety is worrisome," the congressional letter reads.

Though the Minerals Management Service -- now renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement -- had vowed to investigate Abbott's claims and report their findings in May, Salazar said last month that the probe had only just begun.

"Given the quantity of records and need for MMS to focus on responding to the Deepwater Horizon accident, the investigation is only approximately 10 percent complete," he said.