The Arctic is know for extreme weather conditions, freezing temperatures and violent storms on the Arctic Ocean are legendary. It remains to be seen if oil giant Shell is up to the reality of Arctic Ocean operations. On July 14, 2012 the Royal Dutch Shell exploration ship Discoverer's anchor failed in stiff winds and ran aground.
With a lawsuit in U.S. Federal courts contesting the lax standards Shell is being allowed to operate under, safety of both workers and of the environment falls into question. The lawsuit invokes the U.S. Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and Oil Pollution Act, statingthe Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) signed off on Shell's exploration plans despite oil spill plans requiring greater scrutiny.
Shell's plan to drill a thousand miles away from the nearest population centre means the ability to deal with spills is limited. The containment barge Shell was expecting to make use of has not passed inspection by the Coast Guard. Royal Dutch Shell is attempting to get the Coast Guard to relax certification standards so it can use the thirty-seven year old Arctic Discoverer.
Shell has published lengthy documentation on it's spill prevention and oil recovery plan, none of the actual machinery has ever been successfully tested in the Arctic.
View July 15, 2012 The International article
View July 15, 2012 Los Angeles Times article
View July 11, 2012 Greenpeace article
View July 16, 2012 Anchorage Daily News article
View United States Environmental Protection Agency Summary of the Clean Water Act
View United States Environmental Protection Agency Oil Pollution Act Overview