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WWF Statement on the Grounding of Shell Oil’s Drilling Rig Kulluk

Anchorage, AK - World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Arctic Program Managing Director Margaret Williams issued the following statement today about the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell's drilling rig, Kulluk:

“This latest mishap by Royal Dutch Shell is a result of the race to drill in the pristine Arctic, and should be seen as a warning about the inherent risks and dangers of oil development in a harsh marine environment.

“As a harbinger of the challenges Alaska will face as Arctic industries grow, the Administration and Congress should use this incident as a somber warning to re-evaluate their previous approvals and eagerness to drill in America’s Arctic. That this latest incident occurred - despite significant investment by Shell to prepare for the difficulty of operating here - underscores the point that there’s no safe and easy way to exploit the Arctic.

“And this is just the latest in a series of setbacks for Shell, including the botched trial of its containment dome, the delay in readying its response barge, the onboard fire and near-grounding of one of its vessels in Dutch Harbor, and the numerous violations in pollution prevention discovered aboard its drillship, Noble Discoverer.

"The race to accelerate oil development in the Arctic is jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of crew members on the Kulluk, US Coast Guard personnel, thousands of Alaska’s coastal residents, as well as rich wildlife populations and productive fisheries that feed millions.

“After promising to the US administration and the public that it was ready for all contingencies in the Arctic, Shell has demonstrated yet again that this is not the case, and the consequences for Alaska and the nation are huge.

“With the new year upon us, let’s hope 2013 ushers in a new era of environmental stewardship in the Arctic.”

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Media Contact: Chris Conner, 202-495-4786