Storm slows Coast Guard assessment of runaway drilling rig damage
ANCHORAGE — The Coast Guard was trying to determine on Tuesday whether a strong Alaska storm had abated enough to allow a helicopter to assess the condition of a drilling rig that ran aground in shallow water off a small island.
If conditions are safe, the helicopter also would lower experts to the Kulluk to get a close look at the rig and determine whether it is leaking fuel, said Curtis Smith, a Royal Dutch Shell PLC employee speaking for a unified command center set up in an Anchorage hotel.
About 250 people from the Coast Guard, Shell, state responders and others were involved in a response effort and waiting to know for sure what environmental impact the grounding might have caused.
Storm conditions re-mained severe Tuesday morning, with the grounded rig likely taking a pounding. Winds were reported at up to 70 mph, with waves 35 feet and 45-foot swells. Some waves overnight reached 50 feet, the National Weather Service said.
The forecast called for both wind and waves easing Tuesday afternoon.
“We are doing whatever we can do to prepare,” unified command center spokeswoman Destin Singleton said.
The Kulluk is carrying 150,000 gallons of diesel and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid. “The condition of the Kulluk has not been confirmed,” unified command said in a status report issued about 12 hours after the grounding.
The drilling rig was built with a double-sided hull of reinforced steel that is 3 inches thick, Smith said.
The drilling rig's difficulties go back to Thursday when it separated from a towing vessel south of Kodiak Island as it was being towed to Seattle for maintenance. The rig grounded Monday night on a sand and gravel shore off the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Alaska.
The North Pacific storm that has caused problems for Shell's efforts to move the drill into place near Kodiak Island was expected to ease a bit Tuesday, spokeswoman Darci Sinclair said.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement expressing his concerns about the Kulluk situation.
“Oil companies keep saying they can conquer the Arctic, but the Arctic keeps disagreeing with the oil companies,” Markey said. “Drilling expansion could prove disastrous for this sensitive environment.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Personal use of Secret Service agents on staffer’s behalf draws investigaton
- Security at Capitol questioned
- 8 arrested in post-game riots in Morgantown
- Election picture looks less predictable with Ebola, ISIS on the table
- Alleged trooper killer may have been seen Friday
- West Virginia University warns students over riots
- Navy civilian goes on trial for diverting $2M to brother of his boss
- Officials: 500M financial records hacked
- Crying suspect trapped in Calif. chimney, saved but arrested
- Expert: Stress level rises for Americans who forfeit vacation
- Ferguson slaying of Brown reconstructed in county autopsy