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Anti-Arctic drilling activists arrested at Seattle harbor

SEATTLE - Five activists opposed to undersea oil drilling off the north shore of Alaska were arrested as they continued their ongoing series of protests Tuesday morning, blocking a Seattle terminal where a Royal Dutch Shell arctic oil rig is being fitted out.

The protesters set up blockades at two entrances to Terminal 5, where the Polar Pioneer is being prepared for its journey to northern Alaska to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. The massive rig has been a lightning rod for numerous protests since it was towed into Seattle in May.

Protesters at the terminal entrances held signs Tuesday morning denouncing the oil drilling as a threat to the fragile arctic ecosystem. The said their goal is to disrupt work on the rig in order to delay its move out of Seattle.

"Shell only has until the end of June to make it up to the Arctic in time to drill this summer. We want to stop them from leaving," said Blaine Doherty, who is sitting in the road chained to another Seattle resident. "We can't afford to let Shell drill in the Arctic if we want this planet to remain habitable."

Seattle police arrested five members of a group that calls itself the Seattle Raging Grannies, who had chained themselves together in rocking chairs. Other protesters chanted "Rock on Grannies."

Police officers said they were arrested for blocking train tracks outside Terminal 5.

Protesters said there were a few close calls throughout the morning as truck drivers drove up to the blockades at what the activists described as unsafe speeds.

A spokesperson for the protest group told KOMO News that a similar scene has played out a half dozen times so far - one time she said the driver narrowly missed the protesters.

"There have been some Shell (workers) who have been aggressive and threatening and have driven up extremely fast towards us, which is just a reflected manifested show of ... industry's reckless threatening, violent behavior," said Zarna Joshi.

Joshi said people are in urgent need of relief from fossil fuels right now and all the damage that is being done.

"The fossil fuel industry is an empire. It's a racist, capitalist, colonialist empire that is destroying everything that is taking everything and we must stop them. And I have chained myself to this earth, because this earth is my planet, this earth is my home, I only have one," said Joshi.

In the end, it does not appear that the protesters stopped any employees or goods from getting to or from the rig docked at Terminal 5. And BNSF said that it held up one train behind Chelan Caf. A spokesman told KOMO 4 that the train did not have anything to do with the Polar Pioneer, but was loaded with product headed to several local businesses.

The city of Seattle has previously warned Shell and its host, Foss Maritime, that they lack the proper permits for berthing the Polar Pioneer along the Seattle waterfront.

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