While we’re Tweeting from the rooftop at London's National Gallery (the banner is now down and Paula Bear is having a wander), we thought you might like to find out a bit more about Shell’s spill response plan – the document which apparently explains what the company will do to block a ruptured well and save this unique Arctic region from catastrophe.
This tome was recently given the all clear by US authorities, much to Shell’s delight, but even a quick scan shows that its plans are entirely unable to respond to an accident in the High North.
The spill plan is full of self-styled “solutions” that have never been properly tested in extreme Arctic conditions. These include a capping and containment system that hasn’t even been built, deflection barriers that won’t work properly in ice, and on-shore clean-up plans that look like they’ve been drawn by a child:
Shell has a secret weapon up its sleeve, though, the future of Arctic oil spill response:
Meet Tara the Dachshund. Shell, and other oil companies, have been training her and a few Border Collies to wear jaunty singlets and hunt for oil flowing under ice. But tracking such oil over an Arctic winter would be impossible – even for Tara – and the spring melt would release oil at the time when many animal species like polar bears are breeding and at their most vulnerable.
Shell has already spent over $4bn on its Arctic oil programme. Judging by Shell’s spill plan, it’s clear they haven’t spent much of that money on working out how to stop the Arctic being ruined by leaking oil.