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January 11th, 2013

Shell Arctic Drilling Rig Cited For EPA Violations

Shell oil rig that ran aground last week has been cited by the U.S. EPA  for violating nine conditions of its air-quality permit while drilling in the waters off Alaska, according to a letter issued by the agency Thursday.

The findings are the latest in a string of setbacks for the company’s much-debated $5 billion Arctic drilling plans. The Kulluk oil rig was damaged after it ran aground near Alaska’s uninhabited Sitkalidak Island. The $292 million rig was on its way to Seattle for maintenance. After the grounding, it was towed to Kiliuda Bay, where damage is being assessed.

According to the EPA complaint, Shell did not properly monitor air emissions from the rig as stipulated in the conditions of the permit under the Clean Air Act. The EPA also said in its complaint that the rig exceeded nitrogen-oxide emission limits, operated its incinerator longer than allowed in the permit, and failed to report in a timely fashion the excess air emissions. For each permit violation, the agency can levy fines of up to $37,500 a day.

“We have already proposed necessary permit revisions as a result of ongoing conversations with the agency,” said Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh. “We remain committed to minimizing the environmental footprint of our Arctic offshore operations.”

The maritime law attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  represent workers injured in offshore drilling accidents.

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