After what happened with the BP Gulf oil disaster, the explosion that took so many lives, that devastated so many more, you'd think that we'd wise up about oil drilling, especially deep water drilling. Especially drilling in areas that are even more difficult to clean up in the event of another deadly catastrophe.
But no. Learning from our mistakes and moving on to clean, renewable energy sources is something many continue to resist, despite the toxic effect of fossil fuels on our planet and its inhabitants.
So now Shell is salivating at the thought of drilling in the Beaufort Sea, maybe even by this summer, and they're being aided and abetted by the Interior Department who issued them permits to do just that.
Days after the Obama administration approved Royal Dutch Shell's oil spill response plan for drilling in Arctic waters off the Alaska coast, an independent federal report said that Shell's plan fails to take into account the risks unique to oil production in harsh, icy offshore conditions. [...]
The report raised questions about whether wellhead equipment could withstand ice that scoured along the sea floor.
Interior officials told the report's authors that if a blowout occurred after the drilling season ended in October, the sea's surface ice could make it difficult for Shell's icebreakers to get to the accident site and install containment equipment. [...]
If a blowout did occur, Shell and the oil industry might not have enough boats and people in place to deal with it, the GAO report said.
There's more where that came from.
Shell's spokesperson said (italics mine), "We believe our plan, vessels and equipment are the Arctic standard. In addition to Arctic capping and containment systems, our three-tier response plan was specifically assembled to mitigate environmental impact in the hugely unlikely event of well control incident."
The last thing I would put any stock in would be Shell's "beliefs" and reliance on what they determine to be "unlikely," especially after the "unlikely" Fukushima event that nobody expected. Rule of thumb: Expect the unexpected.
And then prevent it from happening by avoiding past behavior. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.