11 Nov 2010:
Oil Companies Not Prepared
To Respond to Massive Arctic Spill
Harsh weather conditions, darkness, and shifting sea ice could delay efforts to respond to offshore oil disasters in the remote Arctic by six months or more, and likely result in oil being trapped in and under
the ice for years, according to a new report. The report by the Pew Environment Group
, which comes as the oil industry pushes for the increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean to be opened to drilling, warns that oil companies are unprepared to deal with an Arctic spill. A massive spill could severely harm populations of walrus, seal, and polar bears
, and decimate the indigenous communities that rely on hunting. The report also notes that oil persists in cold Arctic waters far longer than in warmer waters, such as the Gulf of Mexico, site of the BP spill. The report recommends reforms that would close gaps in risk analysis, response planning, oversight, and scientific research. “The Gulf of Mexico catastrophe
showed us the consequences of lax oversight and inadequate response capacity, even in temperate waters near population centers,” said Marilyn Heiman, director of Pew’s U.S. Arctic Program.
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In a Yale Environment 360
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