Unfortunately, even after the standoff Thursday morning that was called an environmentalist victory, the Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic-bound drilling ship passed unobstructed under Portland’s St. John’s bridge just before 6 p.m. PT that same day.
The icebreaking vessel Fennica is on its way to Alaska to support Shell’s drilling efforts in the Arctic. Protestors hung from the bridge for 38 hours, obstructing the ship’s passage, before the U.S. Coast Guard and police removed them.
Greenpeace, who organized the protest and blockade, has been fined $2,500 for every hour that it delayed the Fennica’s departure, beginning Thursday at 10 a.m., local time. Eight hours of violation at $2,500 per hour would total $20,000. A motion filed by Shell requesting the federal court to impose a fine said the daily rate paid by the oil company for the ship is $59,288. The fines would have increased every day had protesters not been removed Thursday evening.
Protesters were asked to leave throughout the day by the Coast Guard, but they did not comply. “We’ve been here for 29 hours, and we’re ready to be here for another 29,” Greenpeace activist Kristina Flores said while broadcasting the protest on Periscope.
The 13 climbers were accompanied by anchor supports on the bridge, “kayaktivists” and swimmers on the river, and a crowd of protesters on the nearest dock. Authorities used boats and even “jumped into the water to physically [remove] protesters who left their kayaks,” the Associated Press reported.
Fennica Drilling Ship Back on Schedule
The Fennica is designed to protect the drilling fleet from ice and carries the containment dome, a key component of Shell’s oil spill response system. It arrived in Portland last week for repairs on a meter-long gash in its side, and was headed back to the Alaskan Arctic when protesters created a blockade. Exploration and drilling plans could not go forward until the Fennica returned to the site.
Activists had hoped to delay the ship’s departure until the drilling window closed, or until the Obama administration rescinded the exploratory drilling permits it gave to Shell last week. The administration has not issued any statements regarding the protest.
The movement may have been a success for 39 hours, but that success didn’t last for very long … with Fennica back in the sea and on schedule once more.