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Misguided Decision on Behalf of Shell Oil Company Puts Arctic Ocean at Grave Risk – Frances Beinecke, NRDC

August 6, 2011

Follow the link for Beneicke’s full blog post: Misguided Decision on Behalf of Shell Oil Company Puts Arctic Ocean at Grave Risk | Frances Beinecke’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.

Haven’t we learned from past mistakes (B.P. Oil Spill)? Shell Oil is putting the whole ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean at risk by continuing with plans to begin offshore oil drilling into action in this harsh climate. Dealing with a potential spill up North would be chaotic—oil could be trapped in the ice, and it could prove difficult in extreme conditions to get sufficient help (equipment, ships, and personnel) to a spill to clean things up in a remote area. The nearest U.S. Coast Guard base is 1,000 miles away, with only one operating ice-breaking ship. Will the same technology used in offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico withstand the freezing temperatures of the arctic? Does anyone even know how to clean up oil trapped by ice?

Nobody even knows what sorts of damage oil would cause in the marine ecosystem of the Arctic, which due to remoteness and severe conditions has been scarcely explored.

I served on the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, and during my tenure, I heard federal officials testify that they lacked the money, staff, and expertise to ensure offshore oil rigs were following the rules. And I heard oil executives admit that the industry lacked a rigorous safety culture and best practices for operating in the offshore environment. -Frances Beinecke

It would be absurd and highly reckless should Shell Oil follow through with its plans to operate an offshore oil facility without confidence in their own offshore operations, and with little knowledge of the Arctic environment they plan to operate in.

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