Shell alters pipeline route to spare whale feeding grounds

It’s one small step for environmentalists, one giant leap for endangered gray whales: Energy giant Royal Dutch/Shell has agreed to alter the planned route of a massive oil and gas pipeline off of Russia’s Sakhalin island by 12 miles to preserve the charismatic mammal’s feeding grounds. Shell and its partners bowed to pressure from enviros concerned that the project could harm the roughly 100 gray whales remaining off the island with noise, ship traffic, and possible oil spillage. The project has been delayed since last April after Shell’s own research revealed that work in the area could harm the whales. Though the new route “does avoid the whale feeding areas quite significantly,” said John Kidd of the World Conservation Union, “there are still concerns” because a longer pipeline “obviously increases the risk of spillage once the pipeline is in operation.”