Greenpeace Arctic Activists in Court Today after 18 Activists Arrested

arctic activists from Greenpeace scale Cairn Energy oil rig

I’ve got a lot of updates for you on the Greenpeace Arctic activists who have been successfully (in the short term) trying to stop Arctic oil drilling. On Saturday at 5:00 am, 18 Greenpeace activists in 5 inflatable speedboats made their way past a Danish navy warship, scaled Cairn Energy’s 53,000-ton Leiv Eiriksson oil rig, and requested to see the company’s oil spill response plan (after numerous other requests by phone, email, and in person).

When not granted and with police on their way, the activists locked themselves to the rig to stop exploratory oil drilling for as long as possible. It took police 8 hours to get the locks cut and get the activists off the rig.

This follows the removal of two Greenpeace activists who lived in an “Arctic survival pod” hanging from the rig for 4 days before being removed and arrested by police.

“Going against all industry norms,” Cairn Energy is not releasing it oil spill response plan, required by law, detailing how it would deal with a BP-like oil spill in the Arctic.

“Cairn Energy is hiding its oil spill response plan so we’re going to the one place where there must be a copy of it,” Greenpeace’s Ben Ayliffe said.

It’s obvious why Cairn won’t tell the world how it would clean up a BP-style oil spill here in the Arctic, and that’s because it can’t be done. Experts say the freezing temperatures and remote location mean a deep water blow-out in this stunning pristine environment would be an irreversible disaster. If they published the plan, the dangers of investing in such a high risk venture would be laid bare. We have to draw a line in the ice and stop the Arctic oil rush.

Greenpeace Activists Getting Sued

Following this incidence, Cairn Energy has decided to sue Greenpeace for “2 million Euros in fines for every subsequent breach and every day the campaigners stop the Leiv Eiriksson operating.” (That would be nearly $3 million.) In total, Greenpeace has stopped this oil rig from drilling for 5 days this year.

Arctic Spill Response Plan Should be in the Public Domain — Why is It Not?

There seems to be one clear reason why Cairn Energy has not revealed its oil spill response plan — there’s no way it would be adequate.

“What is Cairn Energy trying to hide? We have phoned, written, faxed, emailed and now even paid a visit to the rig to get a plan that should be in the public domain and should be subject to independent verification and public scrutiny,” Ayliffe says.

“The reality is that even if it does exist there is no way a BP-style deep water blow out could be cleaned up in this remote and fragile environment. There is no way such a plan could provide assurances that the environment and Greenland’s fishing industry would not be decimated and that Cairn’s investors would not lose everything.”

Furthermore, Greenpeace notes that “Private UK government documents revealed last month show that experts believe an Arctic spill would be ‘near impossible’ to clean up.”

Greenpeace Submits Official Complaint

Going from the direct action of last week to paperwork, Greenpeace has now also officially filed a complaint with the Greenland parliament.

“The complaint details how Greenpeace has applied for 17 different documents but been given access to only two. Greenland’s Bureau of Mineral and Petroleum refuses to disclose a series of other documents – including Cairn’s oil spill response plan; papers detailing how Cairn will pay for a clean up operation if a spill occurs; and a series of technical reports that would shed light on the risky nature of Arctic oil drilling.”

“That Cairn’s lawyers are threatening us with millions of euros in fines shows just how desperate they are to keep the oil spill response plan secret,” Greenpeace’s Ben Stewart says. “Cairn can hire all the expensive lawyers it likes, we won’t stop demanding what the public has a right to see. When the plan is finally published we’ll see in black and white what the experts have been saying for months, that Cairn wouldn’t be able to clean up an Arctic oil spill. That should worry Cairn’s investors as much as those of us who want to see this beautiful fragile environment protected.”

For more details on Greenpeace’s requests and conflicts between Greenpeace and the Greenlandic minister of the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, check out this Greenpeace blog post from yesterday.

More Greenpeace Arctic activism stories on Planetsave:

  1. Greenpeace Activists Hanging above Arctic Waters (Under Oil Rig) for 3rd Day in a Row Now {VIDEOS}
  2. Greenpeace Arctic Activist on Phone with Oil Rig Worker & Cairn Energy Headquarters {VIDEO}
  3. Greenpeace Activists Now Preventing Arctic Oil Drilling Operation
  4. Polar Bear Blocks Cairn Energy Headquarters, Greenpeace Activists Shadow Oil Rig in Arctic

Photo via Greenpeace, © Steve Morgan / Greenpeace

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