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NEAR KODIAK, Alaska (KTUU) -The Coast Guard has ordered a marine casualty investigation of the Shell Oil-contracted drilling rig Kulluk's Dec. 31 grounding on Sitkalidak Island, a day after it was safely towed to an anchorage about 30 miles away.


The news comes as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced an expedited assessment of Shell's 2012 drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The 60-day review, unveiled Tuesday, will examine "operational issues" associated with both the Kulluk and the drillship Noble Discoverer, as well as certification issues with the containment vessel Arctic Challenger and the failure of its containment dome during a Puget Sound test last year.


A Tuesday Coast Guard statement says its investigation, ordered by 17th District commander Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, will be led by a Coast Guard investigator. It will receive support and technical advice from the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board.


"In accordance with statute, the formal investigation will probe every aspect of the incident, to include but not limited to the causes of the incident, whether there is evidence that any failure of material was involved or contributed to the incident or whether there is evidence of misconduct, inattention, negligence (or) willful violation of the law," officials wrote.

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