We arrived on Kodiak Island today, near the spot where Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, ran aground several days ago. We were able to charter a small airplane to take us to survey the rig at its current resting place in Kiliuda Bay where it has been towed for assessment and repairs. During our transit from Kodiak to the rig we were treated to views of the stunning, pristine environment of Kodiak Island, saw bald eagles and harbor seals, and had a chance to chat with our local pilot who described the history of the area going back more than 7500 years.
As we came over the last set of ridges leading to Kiliuda Bay the rig came into view. Seen from above, the entire fleet (the Kulluk and its tugs, tenders and coastguard escort) is dwarfed by the majesty of this breathtaking landscape. Unfortunately, it is this very majesty, remoteness and power that make the pursuit of offshore drilling in the Arctic so irresponsible. The series of accidents that have accompanied Shell’s first season drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas have done nothing but reinforce the notion that conditions even in Southern Alaska have proved too rough to allow safe operation let alone effective clean up were a spill to occur. Continue reading