Update: Possible Environmental Disaster in Antarctica


Last week, we took the uncharacteristic step of reporting on a potentially grave situation in Antarctica. Much to our relief, the crippled Japanese whaling vessel is undergoing repairs that will hopefully prevent any chemical or oil releases into the otherwise pristine Ross Sea. Although the boat is still disabled and Greenpeace’s offers to tow the vessel to safety continue to be rejected, repair crews have succeeded in restarting its main engine. A decision on whether to attempt to move the ship under its own power will be made after safety tests are completed. Meanwhile, there is still lingering concern that the boat could leak some of the estimated 343,000 gallons of oil that are onboard. The possibility of a spill has sparked significant concern, because the Ross Sea is near to the breeding ground for a estimated 250,000 pairs of penguins. To add insult to injury, a spokesman for the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research has not ruled out the possibility that the vessel could continue its hunt for 945 whales under Japan's so-called ''scientific whaling'' program. See also ::Japanese Whaling Under Fire