In March, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that Shell will not be allowed to return to the Arctic to explore for oil until they improve their equipment. Their efforts to extract resources from the area met numerous challenges over the past several years: activists climbed one of their drilling rigs, the Coast Guard grounded fleet vessels, and the company’s spill containment infrastructure failed. On September 6, federal regulators announced that Shell will agree to pay $1.1 million for violating the Clean Air Act during its 2012 oil exploration off the coast of Alaska.
As the Huffington Post reports, Shell will pay civil fines incurred after the Discoverer and Kulluk drillships were inspected earlier this year. The vessels that operated in the Chukchi and Beaufort had a history of failures, damage, and groundings. The citation points to excessive hourly nitrogen oxide emissions on the drillships as well as support vehicles, and failure to use suitable equipment to clean the outflow.
The EPA will require Shell to pay $710,000 for 23 violations found on the Discoverer and its support equipment, and $390,000 for problems with the Kulluk. Curtis Smith, a spokesperson from the company said that their short drilling season in 2012 had taught the oil giant a lesson about air pollution. Shell has already spent $5 billion in its offshore drilling project in Alaska, and the fines amount to a mere fraction of the potential revenue the campaign could elicit. Despite Shell’s blunders, the Obama administration has showed no sign to halt exploration for oil in the Arctic.
Images via Shell Global.