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article imageGreenpeace activists arrested for occupying Arctic oil rig

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 5, 2010 in Crime
The four Greenpeace activists who had set themselves up for a stay, hanging from the rigging of oil drilling rig, Stena Don, surrendered to police Thursday.
Bad weather forced the activists off the oil rig, reported Greenpeace International. In the end, the four managed to halt exploratory drilling for oil off the coast of Greenland for two entire days. Greenpeace is hopeful that its two-day occupation of the Stena Don will have delayed Cairn's schedule enough to put an end to exploratory drilling for this season. Just before ending their occupation, American Sim McKenna spoke with Greenpeace from a satellite phone, saying “We stopped this rig drilling for oil for two days, but in the end the Arctic weather beat us. Last night was freezing and now the sea below us is churning and the wind is roaring. It’s time to come down, but we’re proud we slowed the mad rush for Arctic oil, if only for a couple of days.”
Environment News Service reported the weather was so severe, it took the activists four hours to climb down from the drilling rig.
While Greenpeace would like to see an end to all offshore oil drilling, they are particularly concerned about the possibility of establishing offshore oil wells in Iceberg Alley. "... Cairn Energy regularly has to tow icebergs out of the rigs paths or uses water cannons to divert them. If the icebergs are too large then the company will have to move the rig itself to avoid a collision. Last month, a 260 square kilometer ice island broke off the Petermann glacier north of Disko island and will eventually make its way south through Nares Strait into Baffin Bay and the Labrador Current making these dangerous operations a reality once again."
Greenpeace said the area of the Arctic, which lies between Canada's Baffin Island and Greenland, "... is home to 80 to 90 percent of the world’s Narwhal whales. The region is also home to blue whales, polar bears, seals, sharks, cormorants, kittiwakes and numerous other migratory birds."
File photo: A photograph of the exploratory drilling rig to find crude oil.
File photo: A photograph of the exploratory drilling rig to find crude oil.
Cairn Energy had restarted drilling once the activists were safely off the Stena Don, and the company expressed confidence it would be able to meet its objectives for the drill site within the next two weeks. All the company had to say publicly about the Greenpeace occupation was "The actions taken by Greenpeace remain a matter for the Greenlandic authorities."
After being held by Greenland police for 24 hours, the activists were deported back to their home countries of Finland, Germany, Poland and the United States.
Greenpeace said "... environment ministers from countries bordering the North Sea will meet in Norway, where Germany is proposing a moratorium on new deepwater drilling. We're backing Germany's call because we don't want to see another disaster, similar to that in the Gulf of Mexico, happen at new deepwater sites across the world. And we need to go beyond oil to protect our climate." That meeting is scheduled for September.
News Scotsman reported the activists were charged with trespassing, and breaching the no-entry zone around the Stena Don. The activists have to pay a fine.
Greenpeace said the activists received a great deal of emotional and moral support from the public, who tweeted words of support. However, Greenland officials are not as impressed with the organization. Upstream Online reported Greenland's Naaja Nathanielsen, Chair of a parliamentary Conservation and Environment Committee, castigated Greenpeace for interfering with the drilling for crude oil. "We support approved exploration drilling in Greenlandic waters. We are fully aware of the seriousness of the situation and of the risks (of Arctic exploration). But in the same breath, I would like to stress that Greenland's development is a matter for Greenland."
More about Greenpeace, Stena don, Arctic oil exploration, Greenland
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