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Kayaktivists Poised To Launch Blockade Of Shell Icebreaker

July 28, 2015

An icebreaker that is a key part of Royal Dutch Shell’s Artic exploration fleet could be leaving Portland at daybreak Wednesday morning, according to a traffic report posted by the Columbia River Bar Pilots.

The Finnish icebreaker Fennica is in town for repairs.

Climate change activists gathered in North Portland on Tuesday, preparing to launch kayaks to get in the Fennica’s way as it leaves.

Organizer Michael Gaskill, with Portland Rising Tide, expects between 25 and 50 kayakers to participate. His goal is to delay the ship and to tell Shell that drilling in the Arctic is immoral.

“I am personally willing to risk arrest for this. I feel like this is one of the most important issues of our time,” Gaskill said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said people need to stay at least 500 yards away from the front of the Fennica when it’s underway.

Officers will warn people who enter the safety zone, and then remove them physically if necessary. Violators could face a $500 fine.

An official with Shell said its Arctic drilling plan has passed a thorough federal environmental review, even as it has faced protests in Portland and other Northwest cities. The company said global energy use will double by the year 2050, and the reserves off Alaska’s coast could help meet that demand.

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The kayakers coordinated their sign display in a few different locations near the vessel.

Christina Belasco

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