Protesters in Portland block Shell’s ship by suspending themselves from a bridge
Activists risk arrest in an effort to prevent oil drilling exploration in the Arctic.
Last week, the Obama administration gave Shell the go-ahead to drill new exploratory wells in the Arctic. However, the permit says work cannot start without spill-response equipment, which is currently aboard a ship being repaired in Portland, Oregon.
Activists are now working to prevent the ship, an icebreaking vessel called the Fennica, from leaving Portland. According to Greenpeace, 13 climbers have suspended themselves from a bridge, and are blocking the ship’s path—at least for now. The suspended protesters are being aided by additional climbers on the bridge, and have enough supplies for several days. Below the bridge, a group of “kayaktivists” have also placed themselves in the ship’s path, bearing a sign that says “Shell No.”
A representative from Portland’s police department told The Guardian that it is aware of the demonstration and is monitoring the situation. Arrests are possible later today. “Our top priority is public safety, including that of the demonstrators and other people using the river,” said Sergeant Peter Simpson.
Last month, a group of kayakers similarly attempted to block the path of another Shell ship, the Polar Pioneer, which was bound for Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. The kayakers were eventually moved out of the ship’s way by the Coast Guard.
Greenpeace and other organizations are using the attention gained by the protest to encourage people to write President Obama and ask him to put an end Arctic drilling.
“Every second we stop Shell counts,” said Annie Leonard, the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA in a press release. “There is still time for our President to cancel Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic, living up to the climate leader we know he can be.”