After a year in Dutch Harbor, Shell’s mobile drilling rig, the Kulluk, sailed for Seattle last week to be fitted with better air pollution control gear. The company’s latest plans call for using it in the Chukchi Sea, along with a second drilling vessel, the Noble Discoverer. New draft air quality permits from the Environmental Protection Agency will require the changes for the Kulluk. Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith says the the goal is to reduce the rig’s emissions by 90 percent.
Smith says that Shell would have liked to keep the project local, but there were obstacles to doing those modifications here in Alaska.
Unalaska Assistant city manager John Fulton says without a big increase in housing units, it would have been difficult to conduct a large-scale project like this in the Aleutian Island town.