Coast Guard declares drill ship safety zone in Puget Sound

SEATTLE -- The Coast Guard has declared a 500-yard safety zone to keep people away from two drilling ships when they leave Seattle for the Alaska Arctic this summer.

The Coast Guard said Thursday the zone is necessary for the safety of vessels and to protect the Puget Sound environment.

Shell Oil has been preparing two drill ships -- the Kulluk and Noble Discoverer-- in Seattle to explore for oil and natural gas this year in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska's north coast. New oil discoveries could feed the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Environmental groups, including Greenpeace, oppose the drilling because they fear an oil spill in ice-choked ocean waters.

Associated Press