Friday, June 12, 2015

USCG Says Protestors Violated Safety Zone

By Mark Edward Nero

On June 5, US Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound investigating officers initiated civil penalties against four protestors who entered an established safety-zone around a Shell-contracted vessel in Bellingham, Washington during Memorial Day weekend.

Cody Erdman, Chiara D’Angelo, Paul Adler and Matthew Fuller were cited in accordance with Code of Federal Regulations for entering or staying within a federally regulated safety zone between May 22 and 24, according to the USCG.

The Coast Guard assisted Fuller May 24 and D’Angelo May 25 from the Arctic Challenger after each was chained to the ship as part of a protest. Both were transported to Station Bellingham where they were met by Emergency Management Services and the Bellingham Police Department.
Coast Guard officials say they could seek a maximum civil penalty of $40,000 for each entry into the zone, or each day the individuals violated the zone. The Coast Guard Hearing Office in Arlington, Va. would determine the final penalty.

The 100-yard safety zones were established on April 28 by the Coast Guard around moored and anchored Arctic drilling and support vessels. A 500-yard safety zone is in place around the vessels while underway.

The zones, which are in place from April 15 through June 30, were set in response to regional and national environmental activist groups demonstrating against Shell Oil drilling in the Arctic.

“The Coast Guard supports and defends the rights of the public to assemble peacefully and protest; however, prolonged violations of the safety zones tax Coast Guard resources and crews hindering the Service’s ability to quickly respond to mariners in distress or other life-threatening emergencies,” Capt. Joe Raymond, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound and captain of the port explained. “Prolonged safety violations unnecessarily put protesters and law enforcement personnel at risk.”