An anti-drilling activist who had suspended himself from the anchor chain of a Shell Oil ship in Bellingham Bay returned to shore Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard says. A second activist is still secured to the chain.
U.S. Coast Guard personnel Sunday morning helped an activist opposed to Shell Oil’s drilling plans remove himself from a Shell ship in Bellingham, a spokesman said.
Matt Fuller, who had suspended himself from the anchor chain of the Arctic Challenger support vessel Saturday, requested Coast Guard assistance about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, said spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener.
Fuller was taken to the local Coast Guard station, where he was met by emergency medical personnel and Bellingham Police Department officers, Degener said. The activist was not arrested and was released in good condition, the spokesman said.
A second activist, student Chiara Rose D’Angelo, remained attached to the Arctic Challenger’s anchor chain Sunday. She secured herself to the chain using a climbing harness Friday night.
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Coast Guard crews are enforcing a 100-yard “safety zone” around the ship and are monitoring D’Angelo’s condition but have no plans to forcibly remove her, Degener said.
The crews have cited four people for violating the 100-yard buffer and have terminated the voyages of two vessels determined to be lacking required safety gear.
Rob Lewis, who identified himself as a spokesman for the anti-drilling protesters in Bellingham, said Sunday that D’Angelo was “doing great.”
“We have a group of kayakivists out there right now cheering her on,” Lewis said. “We got provisions to her this morning.”
The Coast Guard has been trying to keep the activists from approaching D’Angelo in watercraft, the spokesman said. “It’s been a cat-and-mouse game,” he said.
“The Coast Guard has a duty to promote the safety of life at sea, which includes the encouragement of safe navigation in our ports waterways by all waterway users,” said Lt. Commander Justin Noggle, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound enforcement chief.
“The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment Rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water. To that end, we will enforce those laws and regulations necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public,” Noggle added.
The Arctic Challenger isn’t scheduled to immediately leave Bellingham Bay.
People opposed to Shell’s plans for exploratory offshore drilling in the Arctic this summer and its use of Puget Sound ports have demonstrated in multiple cities.
In Seattle, protesters have targeted the company’s massive floating drill-rig, the Polar Pioneer, moored at the Port of Seattle. Last weekend, hundreds of activists launched into Elliott Bay in an anti-Shell action dubbed the “Paddle in Seattle.”
The activists have raised concerns about the risk of an oil spill in Arctic waters and about climate change driven by further fossil-fuel consumption.