Loose Oil Rig Still Grounded On Alaskan Island

Jan 2, 2013
Originally published on January 2, 2013 1:58 pm

The wayward Kulluk oil drilling platform remains stuck onshore near Kodiak Island, Alaska.

The unmoored platform, owned by Shell Oil, was being towed in the Gulf of Alaska last week when it broke away from its tow lines, as Bill wrote. But seas were so treacherous the crews disconnected the tow lines for their safety. They were later airlifted off the platform. The rig fetched up against Sitkalidak Island, just south of Kodiak Island on New Year's Eve.

Coast Guard Capt. Paul Mehler III told reporters yesterday crews had flown over the platform, hoping to drop salvagers aboard to check on the rig's condition and take photographs and video. But the weather was so poor the drop was called off. Mehler says winds were about 80 miles per hour and there were 50 foot waves.

Mehler says the disaster response team includes the Coast Guard, the state of Alaska, Shell and Noble Drilling Contractor. There's at least 500 people involved with more coming, and Mehler says their first priority is human safety, followed by environmental protection. He and Steven Russell, of the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation, say the rig's hull remains intact. None of the more than 150,000 gallons of mostly diesel fuel have leaked.

At least the weather for the Kodiak Island area has improved today, notes the National Weather Service. The strongest winds are expected to top out at 35 miles per hour. Sunrise is about 10 A.M. Alaska time (that's nearly 2 P.M. Eastern time), so military overflights may wait until dawn to set out again.

Correction at 2:40 p.m. ET. We Pulled Information From A Fake "Shell" Website:

Our apologies. Earlier, we posted a short statement that looked to be from Shell, about its safety programs. But that statement was from a spoof site created by Greenpeace and the Yes Lab.

For Shell's official statements about its operations in Alaska, go here.

We've removed the excerpt we posted from the faux website.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.