Begich: Shipping Riskier Than Drilling in Arctic

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says the grounding of a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling barge was a shipping accident, not a drilling accident.

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by Associated Press

ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says the grounding of a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling barge was a shipping accident, not a drilling accident, but the incident underscores the need to address challenges posed by additional maritime traffic in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean.

The Alaska Democrat is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

At a hearing Wednesday in Anchorage, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo said there were 15 other search and rescue operations on Dec. 31 when the Shell vessel ran aground near Kodiak.

Begich says the state faces greater risks from increasing ship traffic than offshore drilling in the Arctic marine environment.

Begich says there are no Arctic harbors of refuge and marines have fewer resources to respond to problems.

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