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Shell Drilling Rig, 'Kayaktivists' Arrive In Everett

Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU

While the Polar Pioneer remains parked in Port Angeles, 

a second oil drilling rig -- the Noble Discoverer -- arrived Everett Tuesday, where it was greeted by activists and onlookers. 

The arrival brings additional attention to the Port of Seattle which is facing continued controversy over its agreement with Royal Dutch Shell to service the oil giant's Arctic  drilling vessels. And despite a port commission request for a delay of any moorage of oil exploration vessels and a city council vote in opposition to the deal, the two rigs are on their way. 

Royal Dutch Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said Tuesday that Shell has a short summertime window to work in the Arctic and believes its lease for space at Seattle's Terminal 5 is valid. The city has claimedotherwise.

In Everett. retired school teacher Larry Wold stood on a sidewalk above the port of with his camera. He peered out past a stack of containers at the large new piece of equipment that just arrived. He’s been paying close attention to the news about Shell’s oil rigs.

“It’s pretty impressive in its shape and form. It looks like a freighter with a derrick on it,” Wold said.

Credit Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU
The Noble Discoverer

He says as long as it’s permitted properly, he doesn’t really object to Shell’s use of local ports for its Arctic drilling fleet.

The Shell fleet includes an oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, which will be towed north to the Chukchi Sea, and a second drilling ship, the Noble Discoverer, that operates under its own power.

Not everyone is as sanguine about the project as Wold, however. A handful of “kayaktivists” are just coming out of the water, where they paddled as close as they could to Shell’s ship and held up banners proclaiming, “Shellno.” 

Credit Bellamy pailthorp / KPLU
Julia Bent and several other "kayaktivists" after they paddled out to unfurl banners in the Port of Everett on May 12, 2015.

  Julia Bent is a retired veterinarian who says she just wants people to know how important it is to keep Arctic oil in the ground because of climate change. And she says drilling for it isn’t safe.

“Up in the Arctic, there are severe and unpredictable storms and you know, they think they can handle these rigs, but nothing is perfect. and the chance of a serious blow out or some sort of oil leak would be devastating to those ecosystems - with the ice up there, you simply would not be able to clean it up,” she said.

So she says she’ll continue to join the flotillas of activists, taking to the water to tell Shell and the port not to risk it. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to