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Despite Blockade, Shell Drilling Rig Is Arctic-Bound

Royal Dutch Shell's huge oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, was towed out of Seattle early Monday despite a blockade by a kayak flotilla that attempted to keep it from leaving for the Arctic.

According to the the U.S Coast Guard,  24 protesters were detained after they violated the established "safety zone" around the giant, Alaska-bound oil drilling rig.

The two-dozen detainees, who were only a portion of the large contingent of protesters, were released after receiving civil "notices of violation" that can include a $500 fine but don't carry criminal penalties.

"These violations can carry a civil penalty," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener, spokesman for the Seattle office. "We didn't receive any reports of any violence or non compliance. For the most part, everybody was compliant with the safety zone."
 
Set by the Coast Guard, the safety zone is a protest-free area 500-years around the rig while it is moving. 
 
Degener said the Coast Guard appreciates the rights of the protesters. 
 
"We want people to understand they do have the right to have their voice heard and we encourage them to do so," he said. "But we also want them to be safe while they're on the water."
 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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