As Obama Administration officials assessed the impacts of the Gulf oil disaster in Louisiana, seven Greenpeace activists took a stand at the Harvey Explorer to send a message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Two activists rappelled off the vessel, and used oil from the spill to paint the message “Arctic Next?” in huge letters on the bridge of the ship, which is scheduled to depart for Alaska to support drilling operations in July. All seven activists were arrested.
"I've been documenting the BP Deepwater Disaster in the Gulf with Greenpeace for the past month. Having witnessed the destruction that has been unleashed on this fragile, irreplaceable ecosystem, it is unfathomable to allow Shell to drill in the pristine waters of the Arctic," said Senior Campaigner Lindsey Allen. "Secretary Salazar must immediately stop plans for new drilling in the Arctic or any US waters. We cannot afford another BP Disaster."
The Louisiana-based ship is under contract with Shell to go to Alaska, where Shell plans to begin exploratory oil drilling in July despite the ongoing disaster in the Gulf. Salazar is expected to release a review of the events surrounding the oil spill this Friday, and will follow those findings with recommendations to President Obama.
"As long as we continue to rely on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels and offshore drilling, we can't prevent future disasters from destroying our oceans and the industries and wildlife that depend upon them. If we cannot handle a spill in the Gull of Mexico, allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic would be unconscionable. Pulling the plug on plans to drill in the Arctic would be a first step towards a comprehensive ban on all new drilling in the United States," said John Hocevar, Oceans Campaign Director.
Shell intends to drill in the remote waters of Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort seas, where harsh weather and icy waters are the norm, the risk of blowouts is higher than in the Gulf of Mexico, oil spill response capacity is virtually non-existent, and oil spill "clean up" is impossible. The nearest Coast Guard station is a thousand miles away, and local villages lack port facilities or airports necessary to accommodate emergency response.
Other contacts: In Port Fourchon/ Grand Isle: Molly Dorozenski, Greenpeace Media Officer, 917-864-3724, In Washington, DC: Joe Smyth, Greenpeace Media Officer, 831-566-5647,
Notes: Photos available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/sets/72157624113984748/