Oil spill from work on Shell’s oil spill containment barge delays drilling

Minor oil spills at Bellingham have plagued construction of an oil spill containment barge needed for Shell Oil to drill exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.

The Washington Ecology Department says hydraulic systems leaked on July 24, Aug. 4 and Aug. 6, each releasing about a quart of oil into Whatcom Waterway. The department sent a notice of violation to Superior Energy Services, which is building the Arctic Challenger.

Ecology spokeswoman Katie Skipper told The Bellingham Herald the spills could be the result of crews working in haste.

Shell is waiting on the barge to start drilling. The barge will carry a dome-shape containment system that could be lowered onto a leaking well to funnel oil and gas to a barge.

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