Groups seek halt to Arctic offshore drilling

January 3, 2013 - 1:32 PM
Shell Arctic Drill Ship

This image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk aground off a small island near Kodiak Island Tuesday Jan. 1, 2013. A Coast Guard C-130 plane and a helicopter were used to fly over the grounded vessel on Tuesday morning. The severe weather did not permit putting the marine experts on board the drilling rig, which is near shore and being pounded by stormy seas. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two national environmental groups are calling for a halt to federal permits for Arctic offshore petroleum drilling after the grounding of a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill ship off Alaska's coast.

Representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council and The Wilderness Society say Shell has demonstrated it's not ready to drill in Arctic waters. They say the risks are too large to make mistakes in one of the most fragile places on earth.

The drill ship Kulluk performed preliminary work on a well during the open water season in the Beaufort (BOE-fort) Sea. It was being towed to Seattle last week for upgrades when it became separated from tow lines.

Efforts to maintain reattached lines failed and the barge ran aground Monday night on Sitkalidak (sit-ka-LEE'-dack) Island near Kodiak.