On Deepwater Blow-out Anniversary, Arctic Still Unprepared For Major Spill

Posted on 20 April 2014    
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire.
© WWF / United States Coast Guard
Today marks the anniversary of the disastrous blow out of the BP oil rig “Deepwater Horizon”. When the rig blew while drilling in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, it killed eleven people, and spilled 210 million gallons of oil. The 89 day leak required 40,000 people to respond, and cost fisheries in the region billions of dollars. The blow-out led to consideration of what would happen if a similar accident occurred in the Arctic offshore. Some countries such as Canada have taken some action, such as requiring companies to have the ability to drill a same-season relief well.

Alexander Shestakov, head of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme says the new measures are still not enough to prevent or clean up a similar catastrophic event. “The Arctic is still under-protected from oil spills. We have neither the technology nor the capacity to effectively clean up oil spills in icy waters, and we have not protected areas key to local livelihoods and Arctic ecosystems. New drilling in the Arctic is unacceptable due to the level of risk and the need to urgently address climate change.” 

Next week, a new report from the Unites States’ National Research Council will analyze the capacity of the U.S. to respond to an Arctic oil spill. The report’s authors say it will evaluate the effectiveness and limitations of current response tools and technologies, and recommend strategies for prevention and mitigation.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire.
© WWF / United States Coast Guard Enlarge

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