08/12/2010 - A temporary court injunction has halted plans to study Earth's crust in eastern Canadian Arctic waters. The 8 August decision by the Nunavut Court of Justice bars the RV Polarstern from beginning its research activities, just days before it was set to start, over fears that the cruise could impact wildlife and raise the prospects for oil drilling in the region.
The decision has left the expedition scientists frustrated. Heinrich Miller, deputy-director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, which operates the vessel, says that the estimated €5-million (US$6.5-million) research cruise had received the necessary permits from the Canadian and Nunavut governments. "We feel that we're being caught in inner Canadian problems," he says.
But Scott Highleyman, international director of the US-based Pew Environment Group's Arctic programme says: "The controversy isn't about science, it is about oil and gas in the Arctic. If it is really about science, the data they want to get has been here for millions of years. What's the rush?"
Read the article Inuit Concerns Stall Seismic Testing in its entirety on Nature's Web site.