Preventing a major oil corporation from drilling in the Arctic is no small feat, but Greenpeace protesters are proving that, with a little bit of creativity, anything is possible.
On July 29, 13 Greenpeace protesters set up camp on the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. According to local news station KATU, the protesters suspended themselves on the edge of the bridge in an “aerial blockade” in order to prevent a Shell oil ship from passing through.
It was around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning when the protesters rappelled over Portland’s tallest bridge, which stretches over the Willamette River. Thirteen additional protesters have remained stationed on the bridge as lookouts for those dangling over the river.
According to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, the protesters have enough food and water to remain suspended over the river for about a week. Their harnesses allow the protesters to raise themselves to let other ships pass through, but for Shell oil, they’re saying #ShellNo.
The ship, named the Fennica, is an icebreaker and is part of the Shell Oil Arctic fleet which received presidential approval earlier this year from the Obama administration to begin exploring Arctic drilling off the coast of Alaska.
The Fennica had been damaged earlier in July, according to TIME, when the hull collided with an underwater object in the Aleutian Islands. The icebreaker arrived in Portland last week for repairs and was scheduled to depart on Wednesday but was forced to remain docked indefinitely in the Swan Island port, which is an important location for ships, like the Fennica, that need repairs in order to transport around 95% of the world’s cargo.
As the Washington Post reported, the Fennica is transporting critical cargo for Shell’s operations in the north; without the safety equipment aboard the icebreaker, Shell workers do not have emergency response equipment that would be necessary in the event of a spill.
No charges have been filed against the protesters yet, but local law enforcement agents have stated that criminal charges might be filed if necessary.