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Shell Containment Dome Fail Draws Fire from Democratic Heavyweight

2:22 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), has penned a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, looking for answers about a Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) containment dome that “crushed like a beer can” in tests earlier this Fall.

Official Portrait of Ed Markey

Rep Markey was critical of the containment dome failure.

Markey, who is the Ranking Member the US Committee on Natural Resources, is referring to a story first broke by Seattle radio station KUOW, that in September Shell performed tests on a containment dome that was to be deployed as part of the company’s controversial Arctic offshore oil drilling operations.

According to government reports obtained by KUOW, the dome “breached like a whale” and then sank to the bottom of Puget Sound off the coast of Washington State. When the dome was recovered a government official described the dome as “crushed like a beer can.” The containment dome is a key piece of emergency spill equipment that is used to cap an oil well when a pipe burst occurs, like the one we saw in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Markey describes the failed test in his letter to Salazar:

“Remotely operated submersible robots became tangled in rigging lines, warning indicators were dismissed as defective, and divers were requested, even though using divers would likely not be possible during an actual disaster in the Arctic. The test was conducted in Puget Sound, far away from the actual Arctic environment.”

Markey goes on to ask the question that should be on everyone’s mind given this disturbing revelation:

“Shell’s unsuccessful test in Puget Sound raises new questions about the company’s ability to successfully drill offshore in the Arctic and, more generally, about the ability of containment devices to function properly in the harsh Arctic environment.

The outcome of the containment dome test, the fact that Shell may have missed warning signals that something was wrong and Shell’s problems using ROVs, which could be required in an Arctic environment, raise troubling questions about whether Shell can drill safely in this harsh and sensitive area.”

You can read the full text of Markey’s letter here: Markey Questions Interior on Failed Arctic Spill Containment Test.”

Shell Oil’s Arctic Drilling Containment Dome “Crushed Like a Beer Can”

10:03 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

drink_can

Crushed Can

According to government reports, when oil giant Shell (LON:RDSA) tested the containment dome they would use in the event of a spill at an offshore drilling operation in the Northern Arctic seas, the dome “crushed like a beer can” under pressure.

Thanks to the Gulf of Mexico spill two years ago we all know what a “containment dome” is and how important it is when it comes to an undersea oil drilling catastrophe.

According to documents obtained by the Seattle radio station, KUOW, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Shell’s containment dome was tested off the calm shores of Seattle, Washington in September of this year and the dome test failed miserably.

In the documents, a federal official witnessing the test “on a dead call Friday night” at sea, reports that Shell’s dome “crushed like a beer can.”

Considering just how close we came to seeing Shell drilling offshore for oil in the Arctic this year, this is a pretty disturbing revelation. Never before has a company proposed to drill in the Arctic seas of the Chukchi and Beaufort (the same place they film the TV show World’s Deadliest Catch).

If Shell can’t even come close to getting it right on a calm evening in September off the coast of the protected waters around Seattle, then they are far from being ready to drill in the harsh conditions in the Northern Arctic seas.
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