The Exxon Valdez oil spillwas one of the greatest human-caused environmental disasters in history. 250,000-750,000 barrels of crude oil was spilled into Prince William Sound, Alaska severely damaging the ecosystem.
Today, on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill, Greenpeace climbers scaled an ExxonMobil rig in Norway set to drill in the Russian Arctic. The activists are calling for a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic and for renewed efforts to fight climate change according to a press release by Greenpeace.
Upon climbing the rig the activists unfurled a banner reading “No Exxon Valdez in Russian Arctic.”
Despite President Obama’s threat to punish Russia, ExxonMobil is going forward with a multi-billion dollar joint venture with Russia’s Rosneft to explore for oil in the Kara Sea, a project that will start this summer. According to Greenpace the drilling block where Exxon will operate overlaps with the legally protected Russian Arctic National Park. The park is home to protected wild life and whether it is even permissible to exploit the area under Russia law is a matter of controversy.
Erlend Tellnes of the Arctic Campaign of Greenpeace Nordic says “We can´t afford to risk an Exxon Valdez disaster in the Arctic, which would be impossible to clean up. It is time to go beyond oil. We know that we have to keep these fossil fuels in the ground if we want to prevent further climate changes.”
In the event of an accident or disaster it will be incredibly difficult to get help for workers and equipment to minimize environmental damage due to the remoteness and difficult terrain of the region.
Photo by Will Rose/Greenpeace.