Environment Group Warns of Arctic Oil Drilling Risks

Publication: Agence France Presse

Author: Kerry Sheridan

11/10/2010 - Freezing conditions, chunky ice and high seas could imperil operations to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic where the fragile ecosystem is already in tumult due to global warming, a US environmental group said Wednesday.

Walrus, seal, bowhead whale and polar bear habitats could be disrupted and entire remote communities wiped out if a toxic spill eliminates their means of subsistence living, said the report by the Pew Environment Group.

With big oil companies eager to expand offshore exploration in the Arctic, Pew issued the report to advise a major US environmental review and enhanced oversight of oil and gas companies to avoid another disaster like the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"I think there is a great deal of pressure right now to move forward with offshore drilling and I am hoping that our report and raising these questions will help guide toward a more precautionary approach in the Arctic," Marilyn Heiman, director of the US Arctic program at the Pew Trusts, told AFP.

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