The U.S. government seems to be under the impression that shallow water oil rigs are less dangerous. “I think on the shallow waters, the distinction is you can get to the wellhead if something goes wrong in shallow water, and you can–there’s mechanisms to shut that down,” Carol Browner said.
However, some sources, including the NRDC, posit that this is faulty logic for the following reasons: we do not know what it takes to drill safely, shallow-water drilling is not low-risk, the industry clearly does not have adequate containment and clean-up capabilities, and potential spills would be closer to shore and therefore cause greater damage.
In other words, even though it might be “easier” to drill at 500 feet than at 5,000 feet, there is no guarantee that a spill or burst at 500 feet will be any easier to stop and contain than a deep water spill like the famous BP spill. It might even cause MORE damage than a deep water spill due to its closer proximity to shore.
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