Seattle: Environmentalist protesters in Seattle formed human blockades to try and prevent workers reaching the Shell oil rig Polar Pioneer on Tuesday, leading to several arrests.
It was part of the continuing showdown between Royal Dutch Shell, which is preparing to send its oil-drilling fleet north to Alaska, and activists who fear a disastrous pollution incident if Shell goes ahead with its first exploration of Arctic waters in three years.
At least six activists, including older women known as the Seattle Raging Grannies who chained themselves together while sitting in rocking chairs, were detained by police as they tried to block entrances to Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle where the rig is being outfitted for its trip north to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. Police said the protesters were taken away because they were blocking rail tracks.
The protesters upped the ante with their blocking tactics on Tuesday because they believe the rig was being readied for a Wednesday departure to Alaska.
Previously, on Monday, Seattle police had raided and dismantled a tent which the environmentalists had been using as a logistics centre for their campaign in the city, which has hosted Shell’s fleet for several weeks.
The blockades on land are only part of the activists’ arsenal, though, as they intend to take to the waters in their flotilla of smaller boats if the Shell fleet makes its move, even though there are court-ordered restraints on how close they can approach – 100 yards while close to shore, then 500 yards when the fleet reaches the Puget Sound.