National Research Council Suggests Comprehensive Program To Address Arctic Oil Spill RiskSource: The Hill | 23 April 2014
The United States is not prepared for oil drilling in the increasingly accessible Arctic waters, according to a new report by the National Research Council.
The report, released on 22 April, found that safety resources and oil response tools are not adequate. The absence of personnel, equipment, communication, and overall infrastructure create a “significant liability” in the event of a large oil spill.
With a changing climate, the research council said, additional research must be conducted to determine the best response options that will leave the least adverse impact on the fragile Arctic environment.
Given the wide range of conditions, unlike others U.S. companies and federal response teams have encountered elsewhere, the report states that no single technique may apply in all spill situations.
The US Coast Guard should bulk up its presence and performance in the Arctic, the report states. It added that the Coast Guard should also expand its bilateral agreement with Russia to include Arctic spill scenarios.
Work between Russia and the United States may be on hold given the recent Ukraine crisis, experts say, but work can still be done at the research level.
The 199-page report, which goes on to detail a number of challenges for responding to oil spills in the remote, harsh terrain of the Arctic, was requested and funded by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the American Petroleum Institute, and other federal agencies.