Fennica protesters face hefty penalties

Fennica protesters face hefty penalties KOIN News

AUGUST 17, 2015—Protesters who temporarily blocked the entry of the MSV Fennica from reaching Vigor Industrial's Portland, OR, shipyard for repairs could face civil penalties up to $25,000 each, says the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Finnish multipurpose icebreaker, on charter to Shell, was forced last month to undergo repairs to a one inch wide by three foot long hull fracture. At the time, the icebreaker was carrying the capping stack that Shell would be required to deploy should a blow out occur during its drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea.

Greenpeace has been organizing "Shell no!" protests against Shell's Alaska drilling operations.

Last week investigating officers from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, in Warrenton, OR, initiated civil penalties against seven individuals, Thursday, who interfered with the safe operation of the Fennica on the Willamette River near Portland.

Elizabeth Mount, Benjamin Reynoso, Michael Luurtsema, Katharine Loncke, Mark Floegel, Caroline Hansley and Sharon Spencer were issued and will receive notices of violation for interfering with the safe operation of a vessel on July 30, in violation of the U.S. Code.

Coast Guard officials can seek a maximum civil penalty of $25,000 for interfering with the safe operation of a vessel. The final penalty will be determined by the Coast Guard Hearing Office in Arlington, VA  Hearing officers will be assigned and provide the individuals an opportunity to refute the charges or provide evidence on their behalf.

"While the Coast Guard supports peaceful protest activity on domestic waters, the actions of these individuals violated federal law," said Capt. Daniel Travers, captain of the port and commander, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. "We are holding these individuals accountable because interfering with the safe operation of a vessel creates an extremely dangerous situation and puts all waterway users at risk”

The Coast Guard also initiated civil penalties against 13 people who entered an established safety-zone around the Fennica in Portland July 31.  These individuals were issued notice of violations for entry into or refusing to follow direction to leave the federally-regulated safety zone established around the Fennica.

The Coast Guard says that it respects the First Amendment rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water.  To that end, the Coast Guard will enforce those laws and regulations to ensure the safety of the maritime public.

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