A Seattle city councilman was among twenty four protesters arrested on Tuesday by the U.S. Coast Guard after they attempted to block Shell’s Polar Pioneer rig from leaving the Port of Seattle.
According to the AP, the protesters were trying to block the rig’s path with kayaks as it left the port around 6 a.m. and were taken out of the water by U.S. Coast Guard officials.
A Coast Guard spokesperson said the protesters will be released once they have been given a notice for violating the rig’s safety zone that carries a $500 penalty.
Seattle city councilman Mike O’Brien was among the protesters detained.
“I had done everything I know how to do as a citizen, an activist and as a councilmember to stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic,” O’Brien told the AP.
The rig is now headed towards Alaska to kick off Shell’s long awaited Arctic drilling campaign.
The Polar Pioneer has been the target of multiple protests by environmentalist groups opposed to Shell’s offshore Alaska exploration plans.
Last week, a group of protesters calling themselves the “Raging Grannies” were arrested by police for blocking entrances into the port in an effort to delay the rig’s deployment.
Earlier this year, the Polar Pioneer was illegally boarded by a group of Greenpeace activists as the rig made its way up to Seattle from Hawaii.
On Monday, a U.S. federal appeals court stood behind the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s approval of Shell’s Arctic spill response plan after a group of environmentalist organizations challenged the decision.
Shell’s revamped Arctic drilling plan won conditional approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in May after two years of legal battles.
The plan calls for up to six wells to be drilled at the Burger Prospect in water depths of 140 feet about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.