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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 05:05 PM

Sea Trial Leaves Shell's Arctic Oil-Spill Gear "Crushed Like a Beer Can."

In an all too rare example of excellent investigative reporting, KUOW (Seattle) radio station's John Ryan used Freedom of Information Requests to crack the tight lipped wall of silence by Shell and its federal regulators on the spectacular failure of oil spill gear last September, which has forced the energy giant to postpone drilling into oil-bearing rocks beneath the Arctic Ocean until next summer, at the earliest.

As one environmentalist observed, The equipment failed under very calm, tranquil conditions in the best time of year in the Pacific Northwest (Puget Sound). "If it can’t handle the best we have here, I really have my doubts it can handle even a little adversity in the Arctic."


“Breached like a whale" and "Crushed like a beer can."

According to BSEE internal emails obtained by KUOW, the containment dome test was supposed to take about a day. That estimate proved to be wildly optimistic.

Day 1: The Arctic Challenger's massive steel dome comes unhooked from some of the winches used to maneuver it underwater. The crew has to recover it and repair it.
Day 2: A remote-controlled submarine gets tangled in some anchor lines. It takes divers about 24 hours to rescue the submarine.
Day 5: The test has its worst accident. On that dead-calm Friday night, Mark Fesmire, the head of BSEE’s Alaska office, is on board the Challenger. He’s watching the underwater video feed from the remote-control submarine when, a little after midnight, the video screen suddenly fills with bubbles. The 20-foot-tall containment dome then shoots to the surface. The massive white dome “breached like a whale,” Fesmire e-mails a colleague at BSEE headquarters.
Then the dome sinks more than 120 feet. A safety buoy, basically a giant balloon, catches it before it hits bottom. About 12 hours later, the crew of the Challenger manages to get the dome back to the surface. “As bad as I thought,” Fesmire writes his BSEE colleague. “Basically the top half is crushed like a beer can.”

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Reply Sea Trial Leaves Shell's Arctic Oil-Spill Gear "Crushed Like a Beer Can." (Original post)
Divernan Dec 2012 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Dec 2012 #1
DreamGypsy Dec 2012 #2

Response to Divernan (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 05:15 PM

1. Good.

They have no business drilling in that environment.

I hope they become so discouraged at throwing good money after bad that they withdraw.


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Response to Divernan (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 05:23 PM

2. Seems unlikely that this Challenger...

...will ever be a Champion.

To misquote Steve Goodman (author of A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request):

"If Shell Oil were ever to act in an ecologically safe fashion, it would be a coronary event for me."

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