SEATTLE (CN) – Shell’s massive Arctic oil drilling rig left the Port of Seattle on Monday with protestors following it in kayaks.
At least 24 protestors have been detained so far, including Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien, according to the Coast Guard.
“I’ve done everything I know how to do as a citizen, an activist, and as a City Council member to try and stop this disaster from happening. Today I am on the water to try one last attempt at stopping Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. And I am not alone,” O’Brien said in a statement.
The Polar Pioneer is bound for the Chukchi Sea for the summer drilling season. The rig was in Seattle for maintenance and prompted daily protest from environmentalists, who say drilling will damage the pristine area and contribute to global warming.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says Shell’s rigs violate the port’s permits and has challenged the oil company’s plans to continue using the port.
Anticipating controversy, the port voted in January to host Shell’s rigs and support vessels in a lease approved without public notice. The port said the 2-year lease is worth about $13 million.
A hearing on Shell’s permit has been scheduled for July.
Coast Guard spokesman Dana Warr said the rig will be followed by Coast Guard ships to ensure safety and to see that protestors do not get in the shipping lanes.
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