The Shell Arctic drilling vessel Kulluk has been grounded on a small island south of Kodiak Island since New Year's Day, while the inept Shell/Coast Guard/Alaska Dept. of Environmental "Unified Command" of several hundred overpaid bureaucrats and oil patch workers attempts to figure out how to get it off the rocks and back to Seattle for repairs.
For Alaskans that remember the Exxon Valdez disaster, this is a fresh reminder why we don't want drilling off Alaska's shores.
And tonight around midnight, my house shook violently for about 15 seconds. EARTHQUAKE! ran through my mind as I headed toward the front door.
It was short. I went back to the computer and headed straight to the Alaska Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which had a tsunami warning for the Pacific coast from the north end of Vancouver Island to Cape Suckling, near Cordova, up within 5 minutes. The coast including the area where the Kulluk is on the rocks wasn't included in the warning, just in an alert. But what if another earthquake bigger than tonight's 7.6 temblor happens tomorrow and a tsunami does hit the Kulluk?
As it happened, the tsunami generated by this 7.6 magnitude quake 210 miles from Juneau, about 60 miles south of the town of Port Alexander, south of the mouth of Chatham Strait, was very small, less than .15 meter at Port Alexandar. If the quake had lasted longer, or had triggered an underwater landslide like the Japanese tsunami, it could have been truly disastrous for the entire Alaskan coast, and the Kulluk could have been beached inland, where its fuel and lube oils could have seeped into the soil and landscape.
More about the picture below the orange spill absorber...
There are quite a few user generated ads there. I urge you to play with it, and enjoy the site, a venture of Greenpeace and Yes Lab.
I turns out that this rig, as well as one now under arrest by the Coast Guard in Seward, Alaska because it has engine problems and didn't meet ocean safety requirements, were being removed from Alaska to avoid taxes that occur if the ships and equipment are in Alaska on January 1. They sure missed the deadline this year!
For those wanting to follow this ongoing disaster, the best blogging on this as well as other offshore Alaska oil developments is from Phil Munger's Progressive Alaska blog.
I urge you to contact your Congresscritters and let them know that this kind of ineptitude is what we can expect from the ill-prepared oil industry, and we don't need any more spills,especially under Arctic ice. If Ed Markey makes it to the Senate, I hope that he grills Shell's execs mercilessly in hearings, something that I don't expect Alaska Senators Begich or Murkowski to do.