Protesters in kayaks greet Arctic drill rig as it arrives in Washington state harbor



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PORT ANGELES, Washington — Protesters in kayaks greeted a rig that could be used for oil drilling in the Arctic as it arrived Friday in Washington state following a journey across the Pacific that included being boarded by Greenpeace activists.

The 400-foot Polar Pioneer was due to be offloaded in Port Angeles, on the Olympic Peninsula, to have equipment installed.

About three dozen protesters took to the water, many of them in kayaks, as the rig arrived in the harbor at 7 a.m., the Peninsula Daily News reported (http://is.gd/hgRrhp ).

The rig will travel to Seattle in a few weeks for further staging. Eric Ross of Shell No Action Coalition says kayakers are training for a "festival of resistance" in Seattle on May 16-18.

"Shell cannot slip into Port Angeles or Seattle without receiving a strong message that its Arctic destroyers are not welcome here, in Seattle and certainly not drilling for oil in the Arctic," Greenpeace spokesman Cassady Sharp said in a statement.

Six protesters with Greenpeace boarded the rig this month as it crossed the Pacific, and camped out on it for six days before worsening seas forced them off it. The protesters rappelled to inflatable boats and returned to a Greenpeace ship.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Dana Warr said the agency was assured the Port Angeles protest would be nonviolent.

"The word on the street is that there are no intentions to break through any safety zones, that they want to peacefully demonstrate," he said. "We are glad to hear that news on Day One."

Royal Dutch Shell hopes to use the rig for exploratory drilling during the summer open-water season in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, if it can get the permits. Conservationists bitterly oppose offshore drilling in the Arctic, saying it's not clear any spill could be cleaned up.


Information from: Peninsula Daily News, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com

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