Climbers Block Shell Drilling Support Vessel Over 18 Hours, Plan to Stay Overnight
July 29, 2015
Portland, OR—The Greenpeace USA activists who rappelled from the St. John’s Bridge in Portland this morning to block Shell’s Arctic drilling support vessel, the Fennica, from its planned departure are still there and are preparing to spend the night.
The Fennica was scheduled to depart before sunrise Wednesday morning, but it remains in dry dock and media outlets report that it will not leave today.
The 13 Greenpeace climbers remain suspended below the St. John’s Bridge, along with thirteen more activists on the bridge providing support, while supporters and “kayaktivists” rally nearby in Cathedral Park this evening. The climbers have been blocking the Fennica’s route out of Portland for over 18 hours, after rappelling from the bridge at 2 am Pacific Time Wednesday morning. Throughout the day, they have been Tweeting, livestreaming, and speaking with journalists, urging President Obama to use his last chance to stop Shell’s Arctic oil drilling plans.
Some members of the climb team have been tweeting updates from bridge, including @KristinaNFlores and @DanEnviroCannon. Greenpeace also released video statements from four members of the climb team: Kristina, Harmony, Georgia, and Elizabeth.
“The sun is now setting on an incredible day of speaking truth to power and effective direct action. Kayaktivists occupied the sea, local activists protested from shore, Greenpeace occupied the air, and Shell’s Fennica did not pass! I’m filled with gratitude and humility for all those who have carried this fight and for my fellow climbers who, although too far away to speak to, are beautifully represented by their strong, billowing flags steadily pointing for Shell to turn around and stay out of the Arctic,” said Greenpeace activist Georgia Hirsty, one of the climbers rappelled from the bridge.
Since Shell’s drilling fleet arrived in the Seattle area and then began moving North to the drill site, a broad movement has emerged in the Pacific Northwest and extending to Alaska. In June, activists in kayaks formed a blockade around Shell’s drilling rig, the 40,000 ton Polar Pioneer, as it left Seattle en route to Alaska.
In May, the Obama administration approved Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. Since that approval, both Shell’s rigs, the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer have failed routine inspections.
The Fennica is one of two primary icebreakers in Shell’s drilling fleet, and is equipped with a capping stack, which Shell is federally required to have on site in the Chukchi Sea. Until the MSV Fennica and the capping stack are on site in Alaska and Shell is granted federal drilling permits, the company can only drill top wells, thousands of feet above any projected oil. Shell’s contractors, including Noble Drilling, caused major accidents during its exploratory drilling season in 2012 including the wreck of its rig the Kulluk when it ran aground near Dutch Harbor.
In an environmental analysis, the Obama administration predicts a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill if Shell develops its leases in the Chukchi Sea.
Photos available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/
Photos and videos available for download at http://photo.greenpeace.org/
Local Interview Location: Cathedral Park