JULY 15, 2012
Face, meet palm.
Over the weekend, one of Shell's drilling ships -- on its way to the Arctic to begin drilling for oil -- ran aground temporarily on an Alaskan beach before being freed by a tugboat.
Luckily for the environment, no oil was spilled. But this is more than an embarrassment for Shell. This near disaster shows the folly in allowing Big Oil to drill in the untamed, wild Arctic, where a spill would be damaging and difficult to contain and clean.
Granted, in the history of shipping accidents, this was minor. The inappropriately named drilling ship Noble Discoverer dragged its anchor during a strong breeze, causing the vessel's stern to run aground on the beach in front of Dutch Harbor’s Grand Aleutian Hotel.
But stiff breezes are the least of the harsh weather than Shell's drilling operation will face. The Arctic is home to high waves, icebergs, extreme cold and more, and it's unlikely that Shell will be so lucky the next time.
Meanwhile, Shell is scrambling to submit new plans to get one of its oil spill containment ships approved by federal safety inspectors. Currently the vessel is being kept in a Washington state harbor over concerns that it might not meet standards for extremely severe weather conditions.
Shell wanted this spill containment ship to travel to the Arctic along with the Noble Discoverer, but somehow we doubt that Shell can sense the irony in that.
Drilling in the Arctic is a terrible idea, fraught with the potential for a disaster that will dwarf BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A spill in the Arctic will be difficult to manage, and the Arctic is one of the last unspoiled areas of the planet. Shell aims to change that.
Please sign our petition asking the President to immediately ban all drilling in the Arctic. We need to let our leaders know that drilling in the Arctic is a disaster in the making.