Kayaktivists in Seattle blockade Shell’s Alaska-bound oil rig

SEATTLE – Thirteen activists in kayaks have blockaded Shell’s Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, as it attempted to leave Seattle’s Puget Sound. The Greenpeace activists have secured themselves in place with enough supplies to last for hours while additional protests take place on shore. Shell plans to use the Polar Pioneer to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic in less than two weeks.

Annie Leonard, the Executive Director of Greenpeace U.S., said,”Shell wants to haul its 40,000 ton Arctic destroyer to Alaska as soon as possible, but these courageous individuals are saying, ‘Shell No.’  Every minute that brave protesters can delay Shell’s Arctic drilling plans is another chance for President Obama to reconsider his disastrous approval of oil drilling in Alaska. The President’s decision on Arctic drilling will be a dealbreaker for his climate legacy, but it’s not too late for him to stop this catastrophe before it starts.”

In April, six activists intercepted the same oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 750 miles north-west of Hawaii and scaled the 40,000 ton platform, occupying the rig for nearly a week.  Since then, there has been a broad movement in Seattle and beyond to stop Shell’s rigs from leaving for the Arctic, including a protest of several thousand people, 500 on kayaks.

Paloma Henriques, one of the kayaktivists in the blockade, said, “I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone. I believe that confronting Shell will encourage more people to take a strong stand against them and other companies who are seeking to destroy this planet for profit. We are here to send a message to President Obama that it’s not too late to stop Shell from destroying the Arctic.”

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 Noble Discoverer is one of the oldest drill ships in the world. In December 2014, Noble Drilling, one of Shell’s biggest Arctic sub-contractors and owner of the Noble Discoverer, pleaded guilty to eight felonies related to Shell’s failed attempts to drill in the Arctic Ocean in 2012.

“We are grateful and stand with the protesters in Seattle who are determined to stop Arctic Drilling before it starts. Shell’s Arctic venture is seriously reckless. This company has no capability to address an oil spill in unpredictable ice conditions and has proven in previous attempts that they are not equipped for the harsh and volatile conditions of the Chukchi Sea,” said Faith Gemmill, executive director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands.

“The future of the Inupiat way of life is on the table, how can this company be so callous with their decisions?  Not only is Shell’s plans risky, but also detrimental to all Alaska Natives that share the burden of current climate chaos,” Gemmill said. “We stand with those that want to protect their Inupiat ancestral way of life, and we will continue to support them facing down this giant, we call on all those of conscience to raise their voice in opposition to this insane venture now.”

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.

Photo: Greenpeace/Flickr


CONTRIBUTOR

Special to PeoplesWorld.org
Special to PeoplesWorld.org

Peoplesworld.org is a daily news website of, for and by the 99% and the direct descendant of the Daily Worker. Published by Long View Publishing Co., People’s World reports on the movements for jobs, peace, equality, democracy, civil rights and liberties, labor, immigrant, LGBT and women’s rights, protection of the environment, and more.

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