Shell's Arctic Drilling Rig Runs Aground Off Alaskan Coast

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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 18 2014 6:00 AM All Shook Up My 11-year-old has been exploring herself with my “back massager.” Should I stop her?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.