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Judge orders Greenpeace away from Shell vessels

ARTICLE BY TIM BRADNER PUBLISHED BY ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 13 APRIL 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 09.01.36

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 09.05.35The free ride is over for six Greenpeace activists who hitched a ride mid-Pacific on the Shell-chartered Blue Marlin, a heavy-lift ship carrying the semi-submersible rig Polar Pioneer to the Pacific Northwest, its way-stop on the rig’s journey to drill in the Chukchi Sea.

The protesters quit the rig shortly before U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued a Temporary Restraining Order late Saturday blocking Greenpeace from interfering with the Blue Marlin, the Polar Pioneer or the drillship Noble Discoverer, also en route to the Northwest.

The group had climbed aboard the Blue Marlin while the ship was under way in mid-Pacific 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. Once aboard the vessel they climbed up onto the Polar Pioneer.

Acting on a request filed by Shell, Gleason also ordered a 1,000-meter safety zone established around three vessels in Shell’s fleet.

The ships are expected to arrive in Puget Sound in mid-week. As soon as federal permits are issued and preparations are complete the drilling vessels will depart for the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s Northwest coast, where Shell hopes to resume drilling exploration wells.

Greenpeace and other groups hoped to disrupt the company’s plans.  

“We’re pleased the court agreed to grant a restraining order against Greenpeace. It’s unfortunate we had to pursue this legal action, but we don’t want a repeat of previous illegal stunts, including the group’s illegal boarding on the Polar Pioneer drilling rig this month,” Shell spokesperson Meg Baldino said in a statement.  

“These tactics are not peaceful protests. They jeopardize the safety of the people working on board and the protestors themselves, especially aboard a moving vessel at sea. We’re always open to an honest discussion about the challenges and benefits of exploring for energy in the Arctic, but we cannot condone Greenpeace’s unlawful and unsafe tactics. Safety remains paramount.”

The temporary order expires on April 28, which allows time for a hearing on a preliminary injunction that could extend the restrictions. A hearing on a preliminary injunction is schedule in Gleason’s court April 27.

SOURCE

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