Judge Hits Greenpeace With $2,500/Hour Fine For Blocking Exit of Shell Icebreaker

Thursday, July 30 2015

The Fennica in Dutch Harbor, shortly before leaving for Portland for repairs. KUCB/John Ryan photo

UPDATE 8 P.M.: Police disbanded the protesters, and the Fennica left Portland for Alaska about 6 p.m. Pacific Time Thursday. Meanwhile, Shell began drilling in the Chukchi Sea on Thursday, FuelFix reports. 

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

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

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

The fine doubles on Friday and goes up to $10,000 an hour over the weekend.

The Fennica has been in Portland’s Vigor Shipyard since Saturday for repairs.

The Fennica tore a three-foot gash in its hell as it left the deepwater port of Dutch Harbor for its Arctic Ocean drilling site on July 3.

Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino welcomed the contempt ruling.

In an email, she said, “We have consistently stated that we respect the right of individuals to protest our Arctic operations so long as they do so safely and within the boundaries of the law.”

Baldino said the Portland protest is neither safe nor legal.

Thursday afternoon, Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said, for now, the protesters are staying in place.

“While we respect the courts, we also respect the increasingly urgent science that tells us Arctic oil needs to stay underground," Leonard said in an emailed statement.

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