BP Denies Allegations of Whitewashing Inspection Data

British oil company BP on Monday denied allegations it manipulated data from inspections of Alaska pipelines which were partially shut down earlier this month because of corrosion problems.

The Financial Times reported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was probing allegations by BP PLC workers that the company manipulated data to avoid replacing pipelines in the Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, oil field.

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"We've been working with the DOT (Department of Transportation) and the EPA since we notified them of the original leak two weeks ago," said Robert Wine, a BP spokesman in London.

BP would provide any information requested by the investigators, Wine said, and referred other questions to BP's operation in Alaska.

Alaska Attorney General David Marquez told a special hearing of the state legislature being held in Anchorage on Friday that the state had served subpoenas to BP and other Prudhoe Bay leaseholders to preserve all documentation related to the Aug. 6 event and pipeline corrosion dating to 1996.

The Financial Times quoted unidentified workers as claiming that BP inspected more areas of known good pipe than bad, creating the impression that the pipeline was in better shape than it really was.

Days after the shutdown, the Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ordered the company to conduct more rigorous tests on the so-called transit pipelines, which carry market-ready oil to the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline. DOT engineers have been at the site since Aug. 8.

Acting U.S. Transportation Secretary Maria Cino toured BP's facilities in Alaska on Friday and said she was surprised and disappointed by what she had seen of the company's maintenance procedures.

"When we look at other operators, this problem has not been found," Cino said. "I think this problem is unique to BP."

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