Shell's Arctic Drilling Rig Runs Aground Off Alaskan Coast

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 1 2013 1:01 PM

Shell's Arctic Drilling Rig Runs Aground Off Alaskan Coast

Shell Arctic drilling
Greenpeace activists place a stuffed polar bear at a Shell gasoline station in the central Dutch town of Breukelen on Sept. 14, 2012 to protest drilling in the Arctic sea.

Photo by Marcel Antonisse/AFP/GettyImages

One of Shell's resolutions for 2013 is to expand its controversial drilling operations in untapped Arctic waters. It's off to a bad start.

On Monday, the 266-foot drilling rig the Kulluk broke free from tow lines in stormy seas and ran aground on a small island near Kodiak, Alaska, the Los Angeles Times reports. It had first snapped free on Thursday on its way back to port in Seattle after drilling test wells in the Arctic earlier last year. The rig's 17 workers were lifted to safety by Coast Guard helicopters Thursday, and the tow lines were reattached over the weekend as storms continued. But on Monday, amid 70-mph winds and 40-foot waves, the lines were disconnected again to avoid danger to the crew of the tow ship.

The rig is carrying about 139,000 gallons of diesel fuel, but so far the Coast Guard has not detected any spills, according to the New York Times. Still, the incident is another blow to Shell's Arctic drilling program, which was already delayed last year due to a separate accident. Conservation groups have seized on the incidents as evidence that the program is too perilous, both to the crew of the ships and to the Arctic environment.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger's New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.