Woman hanging on Shell ship since Friday ends drill protest

 

May 26, 2015

In this Friday, May 22, 2015 photo provided by Reese Semanko, a woman identified as Chiara D’Angelo has suspended herself in a climbing harness from the anchor chain of the Royal Dutch Shell support ship Arctic Challenger in the harbor at Bellingham, Wash. Rob Lewis, spokesman for protest organizers Rising Tide Bellingham, said she was protesting Shell's plan for Arctic drilling. The Coast Guard said it has no plans to remove her but has impounded the activists' support vessels. The ship isn't scheduled to leave the port for several days.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The woman who had been hanging off the anchor chain of a support ship that is part of Royal Dutch Shell's plans to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean ended her dayslong protest north of Seattle on Monday morning.

Student activist Chiara D'Angelo requested assistance getting down from her perch on the Arctic Challenger in the Bellingham harbor around 9:30 a.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said.

D'Angelo was checked for hypothermia and then released, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer said.

She spent the weekend attached to the ship in an environmental protest against Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska. The oil company's proposal also has drawn large protests in Seattle, where a massive, floating drill rig is being prepared for the excursion.

A second protester, Matt Fuller, joined D'Angelo from Saturday morning until Sunday.

The Coast Guard cutter Ospry spent the weekend monitoring the activists but took no action, Shearer said.

        

In this Friday, May 22, 2015 photo provided by Reese Semanko, a woman identified as Chiara D’Angelo has suspended herself in a climbing harness from the anchor chain of the Royal Dutch Shell support ship Arctic Challenger in the harbor at Bellingham, Wash. Rob Lewis, spokesman for protest organizers Rising Tide Bellingham, said she was protesting Shell's plan for Arctic drilling. The Coast Guard said it has no plans to remove her but has impounded the activists' support vessels. The ship isn't scheduled to leave the port for several days.

Shell said Sunday that the illegal stunt would not delay its plans.

"We respect the rights of individuals to express their views related to our Arctic program, so long as they do so safely and lawfully," company spokesman Curtis Smith said.

Smith said the two activists trespassed on private property, while compromising their safety and that of others. He commended the Coast Guard and local law enforcement for de-escalating the incident.

Lt. Cmdr. Justin Noggle, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, said Sunday that it is the agency's duty to promote safety on the seas and in ports and to protect the First Amendment rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water.

The Arctic Challenger is a converted barge that is designed to launch containment equipment in the event of a spill. Protesters have questioned its ability to be effective in the harsh Arctic climate.

Earlier this month, hundreds of activists in kayaks swarmed Elliott Bay in Seattle to protest Shell's plans.

 

Associated Press