Report Documents Oil Spills In Kenai Refuge

Audubon report documents 350 oil spills in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Published: 06-Mar-2002

WASHINGTON, DC, March 5, 2002 (ENS) - Oil drilling in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska has resulted in more than 350 spills, explosions and fires, according to government studies released by the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) studies also found that oil drilling is linked with high numbers of deformed wood frogs.

The groups' report, "Toxic Tundra," details a contaminants study and a frog study, which was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The studies point to the need for further study of damage caused by oil production in Kenai and other National Wildlife Refuges, as well as the importance of keeping industrial development out of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the groups say.

"In spite of all the industry's promises, oil drilling in Kenai and other national wildlife refuges has left behind a disgraceful legacy of contamination, toxic chemical spills, and lasting damage to wildlife and wildlife habitat," said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations at Defenders of Wildlife. "With such a sorry record, does anyone honestly believe the oil companies' fatuous claims that they'll do better next time, if we just throw open the doors to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?"

Established in 1941 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to protect the large population of moose on the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for 200 species of birds and wildlife, including bald eagles, trumpeter swans, brown and black bear, caribou and wolves.

Industrial oil development within the refuge includes almost 200 wells within three oil and gas fields that total 30 square miles. The wells are supported by 46 miles of oil and gas feeder pipelines, a 3,500 foot airstrip, 44 miles of roads and more than 60 individual well pads.

"More than 270,000 gallons of oil, produced water and other contaminants have been released into the wildlife refuge," the report notes. "Groundwater in some areas of the wildlife refuge shows contamination at 10 times the legal limit established by the Environmental Protection Agency."

"Oil drilling in a national wildlife refuge is simply an awful idea," said Lois Schiffer, Audubon's senior vice president for public policy. "There can be no question, in light of these studies, that oil drilling would be a disaster for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

The analysis by Audubon and Defenders of Wildlife is available at: http://www.defenders.org/habitat/toxictundra.pdf

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