by Published: Jun 15, 2015
SEATTLE – A massive oil-drilling rig pulled out of Seattle on Monday and headed for the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean despite a last-ditch effort by protesters to block it from leaving by forming a waterborne blockade of the harbor.
The Coast Guard says 24 people were detained while taking part in the blockade of the Polar Pioneer.
Many of those detained were in kayaks – including Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien, said a Greenpeace spokesman. Around 50 other protesters on the water were not arrested, Greenpeace said.
The Polar Pioneer’s owner, Royal Dutch Shell, plans to tow the rig to the Arctic Ocean off Alaska to drill for undersea oil deposits during relatively calm summer weather conditions.
The first wave of “kayaktivists” headed out in the predawn darkness, as soon as they got word the Polar Pioneer would be on the move. Protesters accused Shell of trying to sneak the rig out of town during the darkness of night.
“Shell was trying to get the Polar Pioneer out of Seattle under cover of darkness, but the kayaktivists prevented them from leaving for several hours and exposed what they were doing to the world,” said Greenpeace’s Arctic Communications Manager Travis Nichols.
Several tugs guided the Shell-owned oil rig out of Elliott Bay as the sun rose over the city.
The petroleum giant’s plans to drill in the waters off Alaska drew a similar kayak protest in May. Activists also have chained themselves twice to a support ship in Bellingham, north of Seattle.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith says the company remains “committed to operating in a safe, environmentally responsible manner.”
The Coast Guard didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
This is a developing news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.…
(Can you say Deepwater Horizon?)