Tuesday, August 4, 2015

USCG Charges Portland Protestors

By Mark Edward Nero

Officers with Coast Guard Sector Columbia River have initiated civil penalties against 13 environmental activists who last month invaded an established safety zone around a Shell-contracted vessel in Portland, the US Coast Guard said Aug. 3.

The 13 cited were part of a blockade off the St. John’s Bridge in Portland on July 29 set up to delay Shell’s Arctic icebreaking vessel, the MSV Fennica, as it attempted to leave the Port of Portland.
The activists, who are with Greenpeace, were cited under the Code of Federal Regulations for being in a federally-regulated safety zone established between July 22 and July 30.

On July 22, the Coast Guard established 100-yard safety zones around Arctic drilling and support vessels, and 500-yard safety zones while transiting.

“While the Coast Guard supports peaceful protest activity upon domestic waters, the actions of these individuals violated federal law,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, captain of the port and commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “We are holding these individuals accountable because their safety zone violations created an extremely dangerous situation and unnecessarily put protesters and law enforcement personnel at risk.”

The climbers secured themselves in place suspended from the bridge and displayed banners with slogans including “#ShellNo” and “Save the Arctic.”

Although Coast Guard officials could have sought a maximum civil penalty of $40,000 for each entry into the zone or day the individuals violated the zone, the recommended penalty for each citation was $500. The Coast Guard Hearing Office in Arlington, Virginia will determine the final penalty.