Greenpeace criticizes draft Arctic oil spill response agreement
The Arctic Council environment ministers will be meeting in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden over the next few days. One of the items on the agenda is a long-awaited agreement on dealing with oil accidents in the Arctic. A copy of the document has been leaked, and Greenpeace says it is “vague and inadequate”. “Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic” is the title of the paper, set to be adopted by the Council’s foreign ministers at their meeting in May. An oil spill in the Arctic would be very hard to tackle for various reasons, including remoteness, cold, ice, darkness and the fact that oil takes longer to break up in cold conditions. Remember the Exxon Valdez? If you are young enough not to, it was a tanker that went down in Prince William Sound in 1989, with devastating effects on the environment.. I visited the spot a couple of years ago, and there are still clumps of oil under stones on the beaches. And of course Shell is having its own problems with Arctic drilling at the moment.
Greenpeace is running an international campaign against oil drilling in the Arctic. Ben Ayliffe, head of the campaign, told the media: “This draft agreement does not inspire confidence in the ability of the Arctic Council to protect this fragile region when the worst happens. It’s incredibly vague, it fails to hold oil companies liable for the impact of their mistakes, and there is nothing here that ensures adequate capacity to deal with a spill in these nations”
I have been talking to a lot of experts on this over the last few years and most of them are convinced that a spill would happen sooner or later and would be extremely difficult to deal with. The risks to the fragile Arctic ecosystem would be enormous.
DateFebruary 4, 2013 | 4:05 pm