Shell’s Fennica Sets Sail for Alaska

UPDATE: 8:24 p.m. – Police disbanded the protest late this afternoon, and the Fennica set sail for Alaska. 

A federal judge has found Greenpeace in contempt for blocking the path of an Arctic drilling vessel trying to make its way from Portland, Ore. to Alaska.

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Thirteen climbers suspended beneath a bridge on the Willamette River forced a Shell Oil icebreaker to return to its dock Thursday morning.

At Shell’s request, Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage then fined Greenpeace $2,500 for every hour its dangling protesters block the icebreaker’s path.

The fine doubles on Friday and goes up to ten thousand dollars an hour over the weekend.

The icebreaker Fennica has been in a Portland shipyard since Saturday for repairs.

The Fennica got a three-foot gash as it left the deepwater port of Unalaska for its Arctic Ocean drilling site four weeks ago.

Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino says the company respects the right to protest its operations as long as protests are safe and legal. She says the Portland protest is neither.

Thursday afternoon, Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said, for now, the protesters are staying in place. She said Greenpeace respects the courts, but it also respects the science that says Arctic oil needs to stay in the ground.”

Thirteen Greenpeace protesters are suspended from the St. John's Bridge over the Willamette River in an attempt to impede Shell's icebreaker vessel from returning north. Photo: Liz Arnold, shared with permission.
Thirteen Greenpeace protesters are suspended from the St. John’s Bridge over the Willamette River in an attempt to impede Shell’s icebreaker vessel from returning north. Photo: Liz Arnold, shared with permission.