© Will Rose / Greenpeace
Top news: Gazprom meets resistance as it plans offshore oil drilling in the Arctic; The UN estimates it will take 30 years to clean oil spilled in Niger delta; Wild horses are still free to roam in Wyoming; Paddleboarder gets up close and personal with a blue whale.
#SaveTheArctic: Russia’s first foray into Arctic offshore oil drilling was met with fierce criticism before it even started. On Thursday, conservationists condemned Gazprom’s plans for drilling in the Prirazlomnoye oil field and urged them to delay for another year. The company has insured the project against environmental damages for just 7 million rubles ($250,000). Couple that with the fact that the nearest spill clean-up service is nearly 1,000km away, and you can understand why environmentalists are so concerned by Gazprom’s plans. Gazprom also still have to prove that they have the technology required to collect oil from under the thick layer of ice which covers the area for most of the year.
#Oil: The UN has estimated that a clean-up of the decades-worth of oil spills in the Niger Delta would cost $1 billion and take 30 years to conduct. According to UN Environment Programme, Shell and other oil companies have continuously contaminated the Ogoniland region of the delta for years. Pollutants from the oil (including oil that was spilled 40 years ago!) have resulted in contaminated soil and drinking water. The companies in question have failed to meet both their own safety standards and the standards of the Nigerian government. In addition to this, there is evidence that some companies dumped contaminated oil in unlined pits. The UN report recommends that emergency measures be taken to inform local communities and to clean affected drinking-water wells.
#Wild horses: Plans to round up wild mustangs in Wyoming this month have been delayed following the filing of a lawsuit against the action. The suit was filed by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the Western Watersheds Project, wildlife photographer Carol Walker and residents from Wyoming. The US government’s Bureau of Land Management had planned to remove 700 mustangs, and then return 177 geldings (castrated stallions) to the land. The plans aimed to prevent horse overpopulation on 700,000 acres of public land, but the BLM have been accused of trying to “manage the wild horses to extinction”. The plaintiffs of the suit argue that the agency is violating the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. For now at least, the mustangs are safe. Wild horses; couldn’t drag them away!
#Whales: A paddleboarder off the coast of California had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when an 80-foot blue whale practically swam into his board while it was feeding. The unknown paddleboarder appeared to be trying to film the whale as it passed by him. He had an enviable view of the creature breaching the water to breathe and show off its impressive tail fluke. However, in the US, possible fines for interfering with whales’ behaviour can go as high as $10,000, so don’t try this at home, kids! The incident was captured on camera from the safety of a nearby whale-watching boat. Over the past few days, the whale-watching business has been booming off Orange County as hundreds of beautiful whales congregate in the area to feast on krill.