CBS News has learned that the U.S. Coast Guard has called in their criminal investigators to probe potential violations of federal law involving the activities of a 572-foot oil drilling and exploration ship owned by the Noble corporation, and contracted by Royal Dutch Shell to search for oil in the arctic. Royal Dutch Shell owned the drilling rig, the Kulluk, that ran aground in rough Alaskan seas Monday.
The revelation that another Noble ship working for Shell may have been operating with serious safety and pollution control problems bolstered allegations from environmental activists that the oil industry is unable to conduct safe oil drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean.
The Coast Guard conducted a routine marine safety inspection when Noble's Discoverer arrived at a Seward, Alaska port in late November. The inspection team found serious issues with the ship's safety management system and pollution control systems. The inspectors also listed more than a dozen "discrepancies" which, sources tell CBS News, led them to call in the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) to determine if there were violations of federal law.
Sources told CBS News that when criminal investigators arrived, the Noble Discoverer's crew had been provided with lawyers and declined to be interviewed.
The whole crewed lawyered up? Oh no, NOTHING to hide there!
And of course THIS news is on the heels of the serious problems going on with the Kulluk, the oil ship currently stranded off of Kodiak island.
I see some serious fines coming Shell Oil's way.
You know if I were in charge of Shell Oil's arctic oil research department, I might be advising the powers that be to cut their losses and get the hell out of Alaskan waters while they still can.
Update: Rachel Maddow did a deep dive on this situation last night on her show.