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Alaska wants role in Kulluk investigation

Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:36 AM   |   Comments

JUNEAU, Alaska, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The Alaskan government is calling on Washington to include its officials on a panel investigating last month's incident regarding Shell's drill ship Kulluk.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formed a panel to look into the grounding of the Kulluk off the southwestern coast of Alaska. Salazar said the investigation would examine the certification of Shell's spill containment vessel Arctic Challenger, issues with the deployment of a spill containment dome and operational problems with drilling rigs like Kulluk

Kulluk struck ground during rough weather in late December while en route to Seattle. No oil spill or injuries were associated with the incident.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell requested that state officials be included on the panel investigating the incident given the "world-renowned expertise of Alaska's marine and regulatory public servants."

The U.S. Interior Department last year signed off on Shell's exploration plans for the arctic waters off northern Alaska. Extreme weather conditions and a series of equipment issues complicated the company's exploration campaign.

Parnell said Alaska was committed to the safe exploration of the potential reserves in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

"The recent events should be looked upon as valuable learning moments to further improve safety in future development," he said in a statement.

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