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Update: Officials Close St. Johns Bridge

July 30, 2015

Updated 2:38 p.m.: ODOT announced that the St. Johns Bridge is closed in both directions for all travelers. Police are on the scene.

Updated 11:50 a.m.: Judge rules Greenpeace will be fined $2,500 an hour if protest blocking Shell ship continues. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

A Shell icebreaking vessel headed to an oil drilling site in the Arctic attempted to leave Portland Thursday but turned around and headed back to the dry dock after a brief standoff with protesters dangling from the St. Johns Bridge.

The U.S. Coast Guard escorted the icebreaker, named the Fennica, on the Willamette River and warned the activists that they were breaking the law.

Thirteen protesters used ropes to dangle from the bridge while more than a dozen others paddled below in kayaks. The stand-off went on for about 15 minutes before protesters watched as the Fennica turned around and headed back to the dock it came from.

"This is absolutely a victory. Basically we've stopped them," said Meredith Cox, one of the protest organizers.

The Fennica has been in Portland for repairs since Saturday. It was originally scheduled to depart Wednesday morning. Federal regulators say Shell can't start drilling until an icebreaker is on site.

The Greenpeace activists took their positions in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Organizers say they have enough supplies to remain suspended from the bridge for several days. 

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The Fennica turned back early Thursday after a brief standoff with environmental activists who dangled from Portland's St. John's Bridge in an attempt to block the Shell icebreaker's return to Alaska.

Cassandra Profita

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