n-commentMarine Pollution

Science Intrudes on Brent Spar Saga

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Science  31 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5266, pp. 1258-1259
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5266.1258b


London—This time last year, the environmental group Greenpeace made headlines when its activists boarded an oil storage buoy called the Brent Spar and temporarily halted the Shell Oil company's plan to scuttle it in the deep Atlantic off the west coast of Scotland. Greenpeace claimed that the sunken rig would pose a toxic threat. Last week, a panel of scientists passed judgment on Greenpeace's claims—and both Greenpeace and Shell are claiming vindication. The panel concluded that Brent Spar, by itself, would have a very small impact on the marine environment, but it pointed out that repeated dumping of similar structures might have a large cumulative impact.