The National Research Council (NRC) revealed in a study that the US government does not have proper spill response teams and plans to handle oil spills in the Arctic region. The report specifically states that “the lack of infrastructure and oil spill equipment in the U.S. Arctic is a significant liability in the event of a large oil spill.”
Climate change is affecting the arctic and creating new opportunities for oil drilling. It is estimated that 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 percent of its untapped oil are in the Arctic. This has created frenzy by oil companies to establish operations in the Arctic. However, there is concern about how the icy climate and obsolete shoreline can hamper cleanup efforts in the event of a spill. The frigid temperatures also cause concerns about the use of dispersants and how their use will be affected. There is also a lack of coat guard presence in the arctic which can limit the ability to respond to a spill quickly. The ice can make it difficult for vessels to reach a spill and there are insufficient roads and transportation avenues to reach a large spill.
This study comes at an interesting time, when BP is in the process of clearing contaminated snow after a Prudhoe Bay pipeline ruptured. This is not the first time that BP has experienced problems with its operations in Prudhoe Bay. In 2006, BP was forced to shut down operations in Prudhoe Bay after inspecting a pipeline that was severely corroded causing an oil spill despite being warned to check the pipeline in 2002. The first leak caused 200,000 gallons of crude oil to be spilled into the tundra. Once again, BP was fined $12 million for a violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
History has shown that when oil companies increase operations and expend large sums of money to drill oil, accidents will happen. The NRC acknowledges that a large spill is a certainty given the increased drilling activity in the arctic and has even proposed purposely spilling oil to figure out the most effective way to engage in a cleanup of a spill in that area. - See more at: http://pcsblaw.com/lawyer/blog/page_4/Houston-TX-Maritime,-Truck-and-Auto-Accident-Injury-Blog.htm#sthash.bR6nOCE7.dpuf