Shell drilling rig runs aground in Alaska

Jan 1, 2013

Statement by Lois N. Epstein, P.E., engineer and Arctic Program Director for The Wilderness Society and member, DOI Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee:

"In a demonstration of the power of Alaska’s fierce weather and seas, tugboats were unable to prevent Shell’s massive, $290 million Beaufort Sea drilling rig from grounding near Kodiak Island at approximately 9 pm Alaska time on December 31, 2012.  Fortunately, with extensive U.S. Coast Guard involvement, there was no loss of life.

The implications of this very troubling incident are clear – Shell and its contractors are no match for Alaska’s weather and sea conditions either during drilling operations or during transit.  Shell’s costly drilling experiment in the Arctic Ocean needs to be stopped by the federal government or by Shell itself given the unacceptably high risks it poses to both humans and the environment."

Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast Guard

Location of disabled rig

Watch a flyover of the site, footage courtesy of US Coast Guard

Listen to Lois Epstein, Arctic Program Director for the Wilderness Society, discuss Arctic Drilling on NPR's On Point:

Lois Epstein