Shell Responsible for 2nd Oil Spill in North Sea in a Week

This morning the Guardian reported that a second leak is coming from a relief valve on Shell's Gannet Alpha oil platform in the North Sea. The first leak came last Wednesday (although it wasn't publicly disclosed until Friday) and is being called the worst oil spill in 10 years in UK waters.

According to the Guardian:

Work will continue to dam the small quantities of oil - at up to five barrels a day, a trickle compared with the 1,300 barrels thought to have gushed out in the first days of the leak, but Shell could not say how soon it would be completed. The company has also been so far unable to explain how the leak occurred in the first place.

Green campaigners accused the company of complacency and secrecy, as information on the progress of the leak continued to be slowly released. Per Fischer, communications officer at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "It beggars belief that we are still being drip-fed information and that Shell's initially 'insignificant' leak is still causing problems."

So, let's see we've got an oil company being accused of negligence, misconduct, secrecy and basic incompetence. Sounds familiar, right? Good thing we're fast-tracking permits for Shell to begin drilling in the Arctic. In a story published yesterday on AlterNet, Subhankar Banerjee writes:

One of the riskiest and most destructive extreme energy oil exploration projects on the planet is moving toward implementation without scientific understanding or technical preparedness -- Shell's oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean of Alaska.

On August 4, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) conditionally approved Shell's plan to drill up to four exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea of Arctic Alaska starting July 2012. A Los Angeles Times editorial correctly opined, "Shell Oil's conditional permit to drill exploratory wells off Alaska should not have been granted. The hazards of drilling in such waters are in some ways worse than operating thousands of feet underwater. ... It's too early for any approval, conditional or otherwise." Shell still needs several more permits including an air quality permit from the Environmental Protection Agency before they can do any drilling in the Arctic seabed. We must stop it.

Conditions in the Arctic would made a spill cleanup of any size basically impossible, which is why Shell clearly has no business being given a permit to drill in such a sensitive ecosystem and neither does any other oil company.

AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at August 16, 2011, 6:35am

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