Though the Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5, expected to host part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet, is in West Seattle, the challenges to the lease have mostly been taking place elsewhere – in public-comment periods at Port Commission meetings, and in legal action at the King County Courthouse. This Sunday, that changes, with a rally in The Junction followed by a march to Terminal 5. Stu Hennessey sent the announcement:
What: Large turnout expected to encourage the Port of Seattle to rescind the lease agreement with Foss Marine and Shell Oil for Terminal 5 in West Seattle. A march will be made after the monthly “All Walk Encouragement Rally”
Where: The West Seattle Alaska Junction
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Press Availability
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Event and march
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM Speakers and rally
This will be a 1.5 mile march from the Alaska Junction in West Seattle to the entrance to Terminal 5. The March will follow the monthly “All Walk Encouragement Rally” which takes place at SW Alaska and California Ave. SW in West Seattle.
To recap the backstory and where things stand:
The port closed Terminal 5 last summer and announced plans for a modernization project to make it able to handle the big new “post-Panamax” ships. But that work wasn’t starting immediately, so it sought an interim tenant.
After months of closed-doors talks, the Port Commission’s January 13th agenda, made public less than a week earlier, revealed the planned lease with Foss, who would host part of Shell’s fleet, with the oil company expecting to get permission to try Arctic drilling again this summer. The commission doesn’t usually vote on leases, but did take a sort of vote, with three supporting proceeding with it, two against it. CEO Ted Fick announced in a February 11th letter to the environmental coalition opposing it that he had signed it two days earlier. Since then, the lease has dominated the public-comment period at the past two commission meetings, both of which we covered – March 10 here, March 24th here. Commissioners, even the two who say they didn’t support it – co-president Courtney Gregoire and Tom Albro – say they don’t support rescinding it.
Meantime, a legal challenge is proceeding. And while there’s been no public description yet of exactly which Shell vessels are expected at Terminal 5 and when, it’s widely reported that the drill ship Noble Discoverer and the platform Polar Pioneer are part of it. Greenpeace has its vessel Esperanza following the Polar Pioneer, which is atop a carry ship called Blue Marlin, and chronicling it all on this website, where it says Blue Marlin/Polar Pioneer is on a course for Mexico. Its last filed itinerary, according to MarineTraffic.com, has it due in Port Angeles on April 12th. The Esperanza crew says it talked with the ship by radio and was asked to keep a mile away; that reminded us of 2012, when Shell’s last Arctic drilling attempt was preceded by Esperanza visiting here:
At the time, you might recall, Noble Discoverer was at Vigor on Harbor Island along with the drill rig Kulluk. Both later encountered trouble. Now, more than two years later, the federal government’s formal approval of Shell’s Arctic drilling is apparently imminent.