With the platform and vessel that Shell hopes to use for Arctic drilling getting closer to Western Washington waters, opponents of their expected stay at Terminal 5 have announced a schedule for protests, while the U.S. Coast Guard has announced “temporary safety zones” as well as a “voluntary First Amendment zone” worked out with potential waterborne protesters.
First, here’s where it all stands:
Two months have passed since the Port of Seattle announced it had signed a lease with Foss for a third of the idle-since-last-summer Terminal 5 expanse in West Seattle, with Foss expecting to host Royal Dutch Shell offshore-drilling equipment that would eventually head to the Arctic if Shell gets final federal approval.
Since then, as reported here and elsewhere, there have been protests, legal action, and preparation, and more in the works.
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT TERMINAL 5 NOW: Foss and the port have said preparatory work is already under way.
WHERE ARE SHELL’S DRILL RIGS? The Polar Pioneer, crossing the Pacific on the deck-cargo ship Blue Marlin, is expected in Port Angeles on Friday, with a two-week stay there before moving on to Seattle, reports The Peninsula Daily News. The Greenpeace activists who climbed onto it and camped out for five-plus days came down last Saturday, citing stormy weather; a federal judge in Alaska later granted Shell’s request for a court order against them. Their boat the Greenpeace Esperanza is still tailing the Polar Pioneer/Blue Marlin as far as we know.
The Noble Discoverer, the drilling vessel that was here in 2012 before it (along with the now-scrapped Kulluk) got into trouble in Alaska, is still crossing the Pacific too.
(2012 photo by Long B. Nguyen)
It stopped a week ago in the Marshall Islands port of Majuro, and then was reported to be Hawai’i-bound. Majuro to Honolulu is 2,300 miles; then it’s another 2,600 miles to get here.
OTHER SHELL VESSELS: The Coast Guard’s announcement today mentions the Aiviq:
That’s a photo we took while the Aiviq was here with other Shell-related vessels in 2012 (MarineTraffic.com shows it currently moored in Everett).
PORT COMMISSION: Its public meeting yesterday afternoon at Pier 69 was the first in three meetings that did not include dozens of speakers on the subject of the Terminal 5 lease. Four people did speak, all voicing opposition to the lease and concern about Arctic drilling and climate change. The bulk of the comment period was spent on other Port of Seattle business, primarily plans for a new international-arrivals facility.
COAST GUARD ANNOUNCEMENT: From the full announcement published today, which you can read here:
… A 500-yard safety zone [above] will be in place around the Noble Discoverer, Blue Marlin, Polar Pioneer, Aiviq and other Arctic drilling related vessels while underway. A 100-yard safety zone will be in place around the same vessels while moored or anchored. …
…The Voluntary First Amendment Area [above] is a regulated navigation area in Elliott Bay, developed following discussions with several special interest groups, where the Coast Guard recommends, but does not require, those desiring to express their views on Arctic drilling assemble. It is a no wake area where individuals can congregate without compromising their personal safety or jeopardizing the safe navigation of maritime traffic around them. …
As you can see from the map, that zone will be off the West Seattle shoreline north of T-5. As for when it might be used …
‘RESISTANCE’ PLANNED FOR MAY 16-18: In addition to the already-announced downtown waterfront rally on April 26th, opponents have announced “three days of creative, people-powered resistance to Shell and the climate crisis” for May 16th through 18th, including a kayak flotilla on the first day. Their plan detailed on this website vows to “transform … Terminal 5 and Harbor Island into a festival of resistance that will nonviolently block Shell’s preparations for Arctic drilling.”
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