Drilling up old oil safety issues

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Twenty years ago today, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit a reef and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince Williams Sound. Since then, the oil industry has ramped up safety measures, but now a proposal to drill in the Arctic has some experts worried about the future accidents. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Caitlan Carroll reports.


Caitlan Carroll: Billions of fish died. Millions of dollars went into the environmental clean-up. And now the big question is, could it happen again?

Richard Berkowitz is from the Transportation Institute, a shipping industry association. He says there are lots of new laws on the books at American ports, and plenty of incentive for oil companies to tow the line.

Richard Berkowitz: If they bring a vessel that's not up to snuff, it'll get held up. And if you hold up a ship, that's, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars a day that will be lost.

Berkowitz says many super tankers have converted to a double-hull design that protects the ship from spills. And now they use global navigation systems. Environmental groups say safety has improved, but worry that new exploration could lead the tankers into more dangerous waters.

Oceana's Jeffrey Short says a new proposal to drill in the Arctic could pose big risks:

Jeffrey Short: Nobody knows how to clean up an oil spill in the presence of ice, or when it's dark 24 hours for months on end.

That's just one of the points Short will make at a House hearing on offshore drilling today.

I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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