The recent protests by environmental activist around the port of Seattle, left an ironic consequence- environmental damage. The protests were arranged by different environmental groups, to highlight the planned drilling by Shell in Alaskan waters.
Most of the protests went ahead in an orderly manner and without harm or incident, however one group calling themselves the ‘Mosquito Fleet’ decided to anchor a pontoon ‘Solar Pioneer’ in Elliott Bay in a bid to raise awareness. In doing so, the group dumped huge blocks of concrete into the bay to moor their pontoon.
Apart from the environmental impact of concrete itself, the crew of ‘Solar Pioneer’ self styled as ‘the peoples platform’, also failed to realise the impact of their home made mooring blocks on the marine park below.
The huge concrete blocks, weighing between 900kg – 1.8 tons (2,000 – 4,000 pounds), also had steel cables set into them, to act as mooring lines to the barge.
When the crew of the Solar Pioneer ended their protest, all concrete blocks and mooring lines were abandoned, leaving them to continue damaging the marine life in the West Seattle Dive Park.
Upon receiving information about the incident, the US Department of Natural Resources ordered that all blocks and steel cables were removed. Joe Smillie a spokesman of the Department of Natural Resources said, “It’s a pretty precious habitat down there. Anytime you disturb it and move it there are implications to the food web.”
Koos du Preez, CEO of the not-for-profit aquatic conservation group- Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), commented “They had mooring cables attached to the barge; there were big tidal swings and with those tidal swings they wrapped around structures frequently visited by divers and also house marine life.” He continued, “The operation was very costly and the activist group, I suspect, did not have that much resources to clean up the dive park,”
In total, the work to remove the concrete blocks and associated steel cables alone, cost an estimated US$10,000.
With the realisation of the cleanup cost, one of the GUE team took a long shot and contacted the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden directly, explaining the situation and the immediate cost.
du Preez said. “We didn’t think much of it at the time, but low and behold, we get a call from Shell in Alaska.
Shell pushed the campaign further, making calls to Seattle based Foss Maritime, a specialist deep sea diving company. Foss supplied the equipment, men and vessels.
Video Showing The Cleanup Operation At West Seattle Dive Park
Looking ahead, du Preez said “We haven’t done rehabilitation or rebuilding and that needs to come in the future.”
Last updated on 10:54AM - 25/06/15