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Greenpeace activists board Shell-contracted icebreakers in Helsinki

Friday, 16 March, 2012 – 21:23

Greenpeace Nordic activists have today scaled and boarded two Shell-contracted icebreakers in Helsinki, occupying the vessels as they prepared to sail for the Alaskan Arctic to support Shell’s Arctic oil drilling there.

Once onboard the Fennica and Nordica, about 20 activists deployed huge banners on the crane on the quay, by the side of Nordica and a third one on the bow of Fennica as well as handing out brooms and shovels to the crew. Amazingly, using brooms and shovels is the most advanced strategy the industry has for removing oil from ice, as demonstrated in both Shell’s own oil response plan for the Chukchi Sea and during the Godafoss oil spill in ice-covered Norwegian waters last year.

“With shovels and brooms as clean-up tools, I think anyone that remembers the Deepwater Horizon oil spill understands that an oil spill in the Arctic will be catastrophic. With today’s action, we are sending a clear message to Shell that oil destruction in the Arctic is irresponsible and insane,” says Mads Flarup Christensen, head of Greenpeace Nordic. “The Arctic is home to unique ecosystems and to unique species such as polar bears, and walrus. We cannot allow any new oil drilling in this vulnerable area where the harsh conditions and remoteness make it not only extremely risky to drill, but also impossible to clean up after a spill.”

Shell is investing heavily in oil drilling in the Arctic, arguing that “much like landing on the moon, it doesn’t hurt to be first.” The oil giant plans to drill five exploratory wells in the icy Beaufort and Chukchi Seas north of Alaska this year and more in the years to come, and in that way spark a true Arctic oil race.

Today’s action comes two weeks after a four-day occupation by Greenpeace New Zealand activists – including actor Lucy Lawless – of the Shell-contracted Noble Discoverer drillship in New Zealand. Following the peaceful conclusion of that action, Shell filed two lawsuits, including a temporary restraining order against Greenpeace USA, the bulk of which was rejected by the courts. Shell also launched a pre-emptive legal strike against 12 environmental groups including Greenpeace USA, which seems to intend to silence criticism of the company’s controversial oil spill response plan for the Chukchi Sea that was recently approved by the US Department of the Interior. Both cases are still before the courts.

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