24 activists detained as Arctic oil rig heads out of Seattle


by KOMO Staff 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?)

7 thoughts on “24 activists detained as Arctic oil rig heads out of Seattle

  1. Today, the oil rig may have made it out of Seattle’s Elliott Bay, but those of us who were there making an effort to make it’s departure more difficult, if not impossible, have helped to bring attention to protecting the Arctic and all our planet’s natural resources.

    One day when our children and grandchildren ask what we did to keep oil companies out of the Arctic, or ask why we didn’t stop them… We can tell them we tried… We will continue the fight!

    • Yes, this is what is important. In general, the public really does care about its wildlife, the state of the oceans, preventing spills. There’s something that wildness reaches in people. It really makes you wonder what small minority is running the show.

      • I agree with you. The public does care, though there seems a wide separation between one person and the next, as to what an individual is willing to give to protect our natural resources.

        There is much to distract us from what is important. Many people have all they can do, merely to keep food on their table and live indoors.

      • To: Exposing the Big Game:

        Regarding the 24 people… There were at least 100, on the water, many more on land. Only those 24 were arrested.

        By the way, I bought your book, on Amazon. I’ll be in the mountains for a couple weeks, a perfect back-drop for reading about wildlife.🌲🗻😊

      • Thanks, and great to hear it! Yes, the mountains will be the perfect setting for reading Exposing the Big Game!
        Sorry if I sound a bit cynical sometimes; I’m glad to hear so many dedicated people showed up to do what they can stop the oil monster before it’s too late. Hope you enjoy the mountains and the book and thanks again for being there for the future of the Arctic!!

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