The risk of spills — especially of toxic heavy fuel oil (HFO) — increases as more ships travel through the narrow Bering Strait. HFO is a tar-like sludge left over from crude oil processing that is very dangerous to marine mammals, seabirds and fish.
Oil and Arctic Waters Don’t Mix
Many large vessels carry significant volumes of heavy fuel oil (HFO), which they use to power their engines.
An accident involving one of these ships could cause a devastating HFO spill.
Download the infographic → Responding to Arctic Shipping Oil Spills: Risks and Challenges
Toxic and Deadly
HFO is an extremely toxic, thick, gooey oil that breaks down slowly in the marine environment, especially the icy waters of the Arctic.
A major HFO spill could kill thousands of marine mammals, fish and seabirds, and jeopardize food security for communities that rely on hunting and fishing.
Why we need to ban Heavy Fuel Oil from Arctic Shipping. Credit: Clean Arctic Alliance, HFO-Free Arctic.
Cleaning up an HFO spill in the Bering Strait would be almost impossible due to these factors:
- Remote location
- Lack of adequate response infrastructure
- Potential for severe weather and other challenges