Report by US Science Body Affirms Risks of Arctic Drilling

Posted on 23 April 2014    
The United States’ National Research Council has just released a report on Arctic oil spill response

Margaret Williams of WWF US says, “It’s heartening when an esteemed scientific body like the National Academies reaffirms our belief that there is still no effective way to contain oil spills in the Arctic. Their work reminds us that there are still too many unknowns about this vibrant, rich, and sensitive environment.  Aggressively pursuing Arctic drilling without proven technologies in place to prevent and clean up spills is both risky and irresponsible.  A spill in the Arctic could be devastating to marine ecosystems and the coastal communities they support."

While the report focuses on the US Arctic, it correctly points out that a large spill could spread across the region and affect the sovereign waters of other nations. Without a comprehensive international contingency plan in place, cleaning up an Arctic oil spill would be incredibly complicated and could potentially undermine international efforts to protect the region and its wildlife.

“It is not just a Deepwater Horizon-like spill that could pollute these waters for generations”, says Williams. “Even small volumes of crude spilled in open water and washed into wetlands could cause irreversible damage. The United States Department of Interior should not approve further Arctic oil and gas leasing or specific activities unless and until spill prevention and response technologies are proven effective in this challenging environment.”

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