Issuu on Google+

Shell Proves It’s No Match for the Arctic “Shell hasn’t even faced the worst weather conditions of thwarted attempts to drill in Alaska’s Polar the Arctic has to offer,” says Clusen, alluding to Bear Seas, Royal Dutch Shell lost control of gale-force winds, subzero tempera­tures, 20-foot an enormous drill rig surging seas and being towed near winter pack ice. Kodiak Island on “If one of the New Year’s Eve. richest companies The rig, more than in the world can’t 260 feet in diameter buy its way to safety and carrying some in the Arctic, it 150,000 gallons of proves what we’ve diesel fuel and other been saying all petroleum products, along: This is no ran aground in rough place to drill.” seas after all four The Obama engines on its tow Administration vessel failed. “Shell’s temporarily sus­ litany of mishaps and blunders is outrageous, Shell lost control of its Kulluk drill rig, which ran aground. pended Shell’s offshore Arctic drilling each one worse than the last,” says Chuck Clusen, operations in the wake of the latest accident, but it director of NRDC’s Alaska Project. has not ended oil explor­ation there. Oil giant The company’s efforts to drill in the Chukchi and ConocoPhillips has proposed sinking its own wells Beaufort Seas — home to more than half our nation’s in the Arctic Ocean. For its part, Shell is intent on polar bears and critical habitat for endangered whales returning to the Polar Bear Seas, with plans to drill and other marine mammals — have been plagued off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the outset. Last July one of Shell’s drill ships and in other sensitive waters. slipped anchor and nearly ran aground; in August the Coast Guard refused to certify as seaworthy the linchpin of Shell’s emergency plan: a spill-response barge that suffered 400 separate safety-related problems. A month later, a 30-mile-long iceberg forced Shell’s drill rig to flee one day after it started operations. Meanwhile, the containment dome Shell planned to use in the event of a blowout to capture spewing oil was, according to media sources, “crushed like a beer can” during pre-deployment testing in placid Puget Sound. As NRDC and Earthjustice press ahead with courtroom action to stop Shell from drilling, more than 50,000 NRDC Members and online activists recently petitioned President Obama to call off the rigs and undertake a critical review of all offshore drilling in the Arctic, taking into full account Shell’s failures. “What have we learned from Shell’s bumbling misadventure?” asks Clusen. “Only that it’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen.” Take action at: Drill rig © Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast Guard C apping a string of dismal failures in a year 3

Nature's Voice Spring 2013

Related publications