Shell Drilling Support Vessel Turned Back by Blockade, Climbers Remain After 30 Hours
July 30, 2015
Portland, OR—The Greenpeace USA activists who rappelled from the St. John’s Bridge in Portland more than 30 hours ago successfully blocked Shell’s Arctic drilling support vessel, the Fennica, as it attempted to leave Portland this morning. The Fennica left its dry dock at approximately 6:15 am Pacific time this morning and moved toward the St. John’s Bridge, but turned back at approximately 8:00am and is now back near the dry dock where it underwent repairs.
Kristina Flores, one of the activists on the bridge, tweeted “Feeling victorious! The Fennica turned around and headed back to the port. Another successful day of blockading! #shellno arctic drilling!!”
The thirteen Greenpeace USA climbers remain suspended below the St. John’s Bridge, along with thirteen more activists on the bridge providing support, and are prepared to hold the line as long as possible.
“The activists went to sleep last night prepared for this moment, and they were in incredible spirits hearing the support from local Portlanders below and from people around the world. The one person they really hope is listening is President Obama. There has never been a better time for our President to do the right thing and cancel Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic,” said Cassady Sharp, Greenpeace USA media officer in Portland right now.
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.
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 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/
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