Seattle councilmember, 23 others detained by U.S. Coast Guard as Shell Oil rig leaves Seattle
SEATTLE — Twenty-four protesters were detained as activists attempted to surround the Shell Oil rig platform “The Polar Pioneer” as it left Elliott Bay and Seattle for Alaska waters Monday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
At least thirteen protesters got into kayaks and headed toward the oil rig that’s been docked at Terminal 5 on Harbor Island, according to a press release issued from Greenpeace.
A short time later, 24 protesters — including Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien — were detained by the U.S. Coast Guard after violating a rule that protesters stay at least 500 yards away from the oil rig.
The individuals were transported to Coast Guard Base Seattle at Pier 36, issued notices of violation that include a $500 fine and released with their equipment. Personnel and assets from the Coast Guard, Seattle Police Department, Port of Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office, Seattle Fire Department and Washington State Patrol were involved in the detentions.
The Coast Guard didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
About 40 to 50 supporters in kayaks and canoes lined up behind the blockade.
Royal Dutch Shell hopes to use the rig for exploratory drilling during the summer open-water season in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s northwest coast. Greenpeace said Shell plans to start drilling in less than two weeks. Conservationists bitterly oppose offshore drilling in the Arctic, saying it’s not clear any spill could be cleaned up.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith says the company remains “committed to operating in a safe, environmentally responsible manner.”
Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn tweeted about the protest Monday morning.
U.S. Coast Guard said they will continue to monitor the rig as protests are planned in Bellingham and elsewhere as the rig migrates toward Alaska waters.