Workers evacuated after Shell's exploratory oil rig ran aground. Turns out it was also in violation of pollution laws.

U.S. Coast GuardWorkers were evacuated after Shell’s exploratory oil rig ran aground. 

In the words of then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Shell completely “screwed up” its efforts to tap Arctic oil reserves last year. A series of accidents in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off the North Slope of Alaska, led to the abandonment of drilled wells and damage to both of the company’s Alaskan exploratory oil rigs, one of which ran aground. Those blunders prompted the Obama administration to bar Shell from the region this year. They also claimed the job of Shell Vice President David Lawrence, who once described drilling in the Alaskan Arctic as “relatively easy.”

But that’s not all. As we told you in January, amid its chain of mishaps, the company was also sullying the Arctic air and violating the Clean Air Act. Now it has been fined for those air-pollution transgressions. From an EPA press release:

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Based on EPA’s inspections and Shell’s excess emission reports, EPA documented numerous air permit violations for Shell’s Discoverer and Kulluk drill ship fleets, during the approximately two months the vessels operated during the 2012 drilling season.

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In today’s settlements, Shell has agreed to pay a $710,000 penalty for violations of the Discoverer air permit and a $390,000 penalty for violations of the Kulluk air permit.

The $1.1 million in penalties is, of course, chump change for an oil giant that has already spent more than $4.5 billion on its Three Stooges-like efforts to plunder the Arctic.

But it’s nice to know that the federal government is at least keeping one eye on Shell’s Arctic operations.

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