Title: A Dachshund and Two Border Collies Play Role in Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plans
Royal Dutch Shell is all set to drill exploratory wells in Arctic waters this summer after receiving approval by the federal government back in February. Shell intends to start drilling off the Northwest coast of Alaska in as early as June. In order to prepare for the possibility of dealing with oil spills, Shell has added three new employees that can apparently detect spills in the Arctic. Amazingly enough, these employees have been a bargain for Shell. The new employees include border collies Jippi and Blues, and Dachshund Tara. These are the cutest and cuddliest workers Shell has ever employed.
Shell has tested the dogs’ ability to sniff out oil spills beneath snow and ice. It is useful for us to examine the details surrounding studies that have demonstrated that dogs can detect oil spills. Also, it is important to take a look at the response of environmental organizations to this rather inexpensive way of detecting spills.
Details of Study
The study was conducted by independent Norwegian researchers Sintef off the Svalbard archipelago in Norway in 2009. The researchers discovered that Jippi, Blues, and Tara were successfully able to pick up the scent of oil up to 5 kilometers downwind of a spill. The dachshund and two border collies were able to succeed even as the temperature reached -40 degrees Celsius. The study revealed that the dogs were thoroughly focused on the job at hand from start to finish. Sintef has released the full report.
Response From Environmental Organizations
The responses from various environmental organizations have been unified in its opposition against the belief that the use of dogs constitutes a legitimate way to detect spills. According to Greenpeace oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe, it is “absurd” to think that dogs can track leaking oil deep under the Arctic. He added that the fact that Shell is actually paying good money to use this as an option illustrates that they are “scrabbling around for a solution.” According to Marylin Heiman of the Pew Environment Group, it is “embarrassing that using that using dogs to sniff out oil is the best technology we have to track oil under ice.”
Do you trust Jippi, Blues, and Tara to be able to detect oil spills in the Arctic? Are environmentalists correct in thinking that the use of dogs in detecting oil spills is an embarrassment? Join in on the discussion.
Derek Price is an online instructor and coordinator for The College City. Derek has taught extensively on the subject of public policy.
(The dogs shown in the photograph are not the actual dogs)