|My picture of the Kulluk in Vigor's Seattle drydock, |
behind the SBX platform - August 3, 2011
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The united command overseeing the salvage of the Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill barge says the vessel's damage poses no threat to its stability while it's anchored off an Alaska island.
But spokesman Kevin Hardy said Wednesday he could not answer whether hull damage will make the Kulluk unsuitable for towing, whether it could be moved by heavy lift ship rather than by towing, or whether it will be moved for repairs to an Asia shipyard rather than a Pacific Northwest shipyard.
"The evaluation continues," Hardy said in regard to hull damage. "When there's something to report, I presume, that will be reported as appropriate." He referred other questions to Shell. Spokesman Curtis Smith said he did not have new information to pass on. Details of future actions will depend on the outcome of ongoing assessments and permissions.
"I'm not going to speculate on potential next steps," he said.Alaska blogger Steve Aufrecht wrote a blog entry based on ideas he had to consider, based on my same post Joling got his information from. As some longtime readers here may know, Steve was one of the people who inspired me to begin my own blog. I sometimes refer to him as my ethicist.
Steve looked at my earlier post in regard to whether or not its use of anonymous informants went out of bounds of what he described as journalism. He begins with this:
Bloggers are still writing their own rules about how to go about reporting the news. Traditional journalists used to have strict rules about confirming what they write. There seems to be a spiraling down of such standards these days though.
This all comes up because a fellow Alaska blogger posted Monday that Shell's oil rig Kulluk is significantly damaged and may be sent to Asia for repairs. This would be a pretty big story if it turns out to be true. There's been no hint of something like this from the Unified Command, which has been silent for over a week now. I don't have enough knowledge about oil rigs and shipping to read between the lines of their reports that say "the Kulluk is stable and no oil was released." Nor do I know how significant seawater leakage is. But the Unified Command's minimalist updates have raised the question:
What are they hiding?
So, what should bloggers do when people on the scene give them information that isn't available through the formal channels but hard to verify further? And what should other bloggers do when they see such stories?Steve's entire post is well worth reading. Later, he responded to the Unified Command release #44, asking if it had "debunked" my post. He didn't think it had. He's beginning to distrust Shell's narrative as a responsible Alaskan corporate citizen:
Am I being unduly harsh on Shell here? Look, I'm one little blogger asking questions of one of the largest multi-national corporations in the world. And Shell isn't being responsive at all, using the Unified Command and the Coast Guard to refuse to answer very reasonable questions about their operations in Alaska. I know that they did horrendous things in Nigeria in the 1990's. There's enough evidence that they've gotten some standing - however temporary - in a US Court. I don't know what they've learned from that situation. But my suspicion is that they will do whatever they can get away with - less where laws and the justice system are stricter, more where they are not. And even where they are good, Shell's enormous wealth can buy them the best lawyers available. So, no, I don't think I'm being harsh.Another question we should be asking is "Why is the Noble Discoverer still berthed in Seward?