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Dispute Over Shell’s Drilling Equipment Continues As Port Prepares Case For Seattle Hearing Examiner

 The City of Seattle has determined that some of the oil drilling equipment parked on the edge of Elliott Bay does not have the right kind of permit. This includes the large yellow platform called the Polar Pioneer.

The Port has appealed the decision. The City’s Hearing Examiner is scheduled to  take up the issue on June 3rd.

The Polar Pioneer has been parked at the Port’s Terminal 5 for about  a week and a half now. And Port of Seattle Attorney Traci Goodwin is getting ready to defend its operations there. She says her legal team thinks the city’s interpretation of the code isn’t right.

“We’re a public port. We are here to serve the interests of the public and have a broad variety of vessels moored here. So we have what’s called a non-conforming use, essentially a grandfathered right to have all these vessels here,” Goodwin said.

She says it’s the same exception that covers the city’s fire boats that are moored at Terminal 91.

But environmental groups say the oil rigs parked alongside Terminal 5 are in the public waters of a city whose council and mayor say they don’t want Shell’s equipment there, because they oppose Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

Greenpeace says it will continue to greet any arriving equipment with banners, although Shell’s drilling could easily commence before Seattle’s hearing examiner makes any decisions. 

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