September 25, 1999
Michael Sean Gillard, Melissa Jones, and Andrew Rowell , The Guardian

The safety of the ageing Alaskan oil pipeline owned mainly by BP Amoco is "in question", an internal report has found.

The report, presented this week to the US congress and government regulators, is a response to and confirmation of many allegations made by six Alyeska whistleblowers which the Guardian investigated and published last July.

The whistleblowers had written to BP Amoco chief executive SirJohn Browne warning of an "imminent threat" to human life and the environment from irresponsible oil operations in Alaska - the scene 10 years ago of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe.

Their letter contained evidence of falsified safety and inspection records and persistent violations of government laws to protect the fragile Alaskan environment.

The whistleblowers called for an "independent audit". Alyeska, the company which manages the 800 mile pipeline for an oil consortium including Exxon and Mobil, rejected this claiming it was already heavily regulated. Instead it commissioned consultants to investigate.

In the report Alyeska also admits that the quality programme, integral to pipeline safety, has not been consistently implemented.

There were "numerous examples" where problems had resulted in either "no action or untimely corrective actions".

The whistleblowers' concerns were known to senior executives but overlooked.

The organisation of crucial engineering design drawings is "weak", which prevents employees doing their job safely and efficiently.

The report appeared in the same week that BP was fined after pleading guilty to dumping toxic waste in Alaska.

BP did not immediately inform the regulator of its drilling contractor's actions and must now pay US$22m (14m) in settlement and reparations.

Alyeska president, Bob Malone, a BP executive, told the Guardian: "I am not satisfied with the amount of time that it has taken to address issues. We're making improvements, but the most difficult task I have is changing the culture."

The Guardian has learned that a new whistleblower yesterday wrote to the US congress and the vice president, Al Gore, outlining the harassment by a senior executive when she raised "ethical concerns" about alleged improper tax practices and mismanagement of the employees' saving and investment plan.

Alyeska has also been made aware of the allegations.

Related Links
  • NewsUnlimited-- NewsUnlimited Website include The Guardian and The Observer
  • BP-Amoco-- BP-Amoco Website
  • Alyeska-- Alyeska Pipeline


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