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These Pictures are Worth Many Thousands of Words

Chuck Clusen

Posted October 17, 2012 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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NRDC’s OnEarth magazine has posted a fantastic article by Douglas Fischer that features amazing images by Gary Braasch showing just how close Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, is to the shoreline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Click here for the full article. These pictures are definitely worth a look.

Arctic rig photo

In its “Oil Spill Response Plan”, Shell predicts that oil from these wells could reach the shore in as little as five days. Looking at these photos, however, it’s hard to believe it would even take that long killing marine mammals and the diverse ecology around the barrier islands.

Arctic coast photo

Shell’s spill response plan illustrates one tactic the company plans on using when oil reaches the shore—propane torches to literally burn the oil from the beach. Certainly something is wrong with a plan that calls for setting fire to a wildlife reserve. Additionally, they propose to use dispersants that may poison sea life, and skimmers and booms that fail in waters with broken ice—a condition that is common in this part of the world.

These photos quite literally put into perspective just how dangerously close Shell’s drilling is to one of America’s most pristine wild places. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains some of America’s last intact biological systems and is a national treasure, protected by congress from onshore drilling for decades. It should not be jeopardized by offshore drilling now.

Arctic rig off Arctic Refuge coast

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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