San Francisco: A former Shell worker who was on one of its ships the last time the oil giant drilled for oil in the Arctic is suing the company for alleged compromised safety practices which she claims caused her to be injured.
The timing of the suit is unfortunate for Shell but great news for environmentalists and Native Americans opposed to extraction activity in this near pristine location.
Shell vessels are headed back to the Arctic and there are only a few formalities to clear before the company resumes oil exploration there for the first time in three years.
The last time, in 2012, did not end well. The drilling rig, Kulluk, ran aground and the operator of a drill ship hired by Shell was fined $12.2 million after pleading guilty to eight felony offences including cover-up of hazardous conditions and discharging polluted water.
In this new lawsuit the former worker Anita Hanks says Shell maintained dangerous work conditions on the Arctic Challenger as it prepared to drill in the Arctic in 2012.
The oil spill containment vessel is part of Shell’s drilling fleet. Back then it was docked in Bellingham at the time of an accident.
Hanks says she fell and broke several bones in her leg when a defective ladder collapsed in May of that year. She says she has undergone several surgeries and sustained a permanent physical disability.
The lawsuit, filed n federal court in Seattle, seeks unspecified damages for pain and suffering and lost wages.
Hanks says pressure of deadlines to complete tasks on time led to corners being cut on safety procedures.
In her role as a “fire watch,” Hanks worked with welders to ensure their flames did not set anything ablaze, but she cited numerous situations that fell short of appropriate safety standards.