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Two Shell to Sea Protesters in 10 hour Occupation of Shell’s Dredger at Sea

category mayo | miscellaneous | news report author Friday June 05, 2009 12:04author by Jen Debenderauthor email rossportsolidaritycamp at gmail dot comauthor phone 0851141170 Report this post to the editors

Shell security breached and work stopped in successful action at sea.

After the afternoon confrontation in Broadhaven Bay which resulted in one man’s arrest and a couple hours of halted work for the dredgers (http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92555), the Shell to Sea fleet of kayaks headed out on the water a second time around 6pm and two protesters managed to board one of the dredgers, climbing on to the neck of the crane, occupying it and halting work for 10 hours.
The flotilla sets sail
The flotilla sets sail

Shell has been continuously dredging in the area since Monday evening, interfering with protected fishing areas for local fishermen, defiling what was once a pristine marine habitat full of dolphins, whales and other marine life, and disturbing sleep for local residents. They have buoyed off an ‘exclusion zone’ in the public waters, with boats patrolling the area to make sure no one crosses into it. There is a diverse assortment of vessels occupying the once pristine bay; the majority of these are either carrying out or assisting in the current dredging and surveillance operations. An Garda Siochana (police boat) have also been patrolling the work zone along with two black RIBs; The Laura Emily accompanied by its twin the Galltee, both brimming with men dressed in black military fatigues and video cameras for filming protesters. Other smaller motorboats accompanied the Shell crew, including ‘safety boats’ and a large white motor launch. There were tugboats for moving the dredgers, barges for holding the sand being removed from the seabed and, of course, the massive dredgers themselves.
A group of twelve Shell to Sea protesters in eight inflatable kayaks, two hard kayaks, and two rubber dingys set out on the water at 6pm for the second time in one day on Tuesday 2nd June. Three of the kayaks managed to evade the security boats and get close enough to board one of the dredgers. One protester began to climb the ladder from her boat while another kayaker blocked a security boat from grabbing her. The other protester used the tires on the side of the dredger to board the deck. Once on the boat, both protesters were climbing onto the crane within seconds. They slid down into the neck of the crane making it impossible for the crew to remove them.
Loud cheers were heard from ashore where people were gathered at the Rossport Solidarity Camp, and the mood on the water was extremely positive. ‘Shell to hell’ chants were abounding, and there were even some playful exchanges between Shell to Sea kayakers and a couple of motorboats. There were varying attitudes on different boats, but not all of the gardai or safety boats were unfriendly. Both inflatable kayaks which had been left in the water where the two protesters had boarded the dredger were quickly recovered. One was towed out of the ‘exclusion zone’ by a Shell to Sea protester, and one was brought on board the gardai boat and placed back in the water outside of the exclusion zone. The rest of the Shell to Sea kayakers remained on the water to ensure the protesters were not going to be dangerously removed, then began taking shifts to stay close to them and provide support.
In a surprisingly honest conversation between the kayak protesters and a worker on one of the boats, the worker stated that he ‘admired the persistence’ of the local community and supporters who are resisting the pipeline. He also said he thought the pipeline plan was ‘relatively safe’ and asserted that sometimes risks have to be taken. Unfortunately with a kill zone of up to 200 meters and the uncertainty of never having built such a high pressure pipeline through a residential area, the risk is high. This is why resistance to the pipeline is so strong; as one of the two protesters who occupied the dredger later stated, “Today we took this action in solidarity with the local community and to try to protect this beautiful area from being ravaged by Shell.”
The rotating shifts of support continued on through the night, with small groups of kayakers keeping an eye on their friends long after the gardai had left around 12am. Once it was dark and the gardai had left, the mood at sea changed. The Shell security and the safety boat for the dredger were the only ones left. The Shell security RIBs became increasingly aggressive towards the kayakers. They made multiple attempts to capsize them, and used intimidation techniques such as turning their lights off until they were up close then suddenly shining floodlights, disorienting and frightening them. One of the kayak crew reported feeling seriously concerned that the situation would escalate. A security guard even stated his intention was to sink the boats, a plausible threat given the recent vicious attack by IRMS on Willie Corduff. It was reported that the ‘safety boat’ also seemed concerned for the safety of the kayakers, and may have been their only protection in the situation.
By 4am, the two protesters on the dredger were feeling very cold and tired, and felt as if they had achieved a significant victory. They voluntarily climbed down from the crane, and were illegally detained by IRMS security and brought to Ballyglass pier where they were arrested and charged with loitering in a public place.
Despite the severe difficulties encountered throughout the night the mood across the camp from the kayaking teams and all the support crews was jubilant. Having breached Shell’s security and made such a significant stop to dredging work people at the solidarity camp remain in a defiant mood: watch this space for more resistance to the devastation at sea and on the land.
The current dredging work indicates the imminent return of the Solitaire, the largest pipe laying ship in the world. The Solitaire’s work is a major part in the construction of this pipeline. Last summer, strong resistance forced the Solitaire out of Irish waters with no pipeline laid. Local fisherman and protesters will ensure that the Solitaire will again be unsuccessful. Following momentum from the Rossport Solidarity Gathering there will be continued action against every aspect of this project. The more people and skills present at the camp the more can be accomplished. There are important tasks, on land and sea, for everyone to be involved in whatever your levels of experience. Anyone who is able to travel to Erris should do so now or as soon as possible and will be very welcome by the local community and the Rossport Solidarity Camp. Visitors should bring tents sleeping bags and water proofs, communal meals are cooked and compost toilets are set up for sustainable living. Come and see this beautiful place.
Contact: rossportsolidaritycamp@gmail.com 0851141170

The view from the solidarity camp
The view from the solidarity camp

Inflatable and defiant
Inflatable and defiant

Two protesters on the joint of the digger arm
Two protesters on the joint of the digger arm

Shell to hell!
Shell to hell!

author by JMpublication date Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Several vessels have had trouble on Corrib, including the "Vlaanderen VII" (pictured) and of course the "Solitaire". It had also been rumoured that the "Goliath" dredger - on it's way to Broadhaven Bay for the Corrib works - ran into some difficulties and nearly sank off the south coast of England. A report on that incident can be found below.


May 12, 2009

Multraship salves dredger off UK coast

Netherlands-based salvage specialist Multraship Salvage has successfully salved a sinking dredger off the coast of Kent in the UK.

The 67m Van Oord-owned dipper dredger Goliath has now been towed to the Moerdijk area of Holland for further inspection.

Goliath was under tow from The Netherlands to Ireland by the Sea Contractors tug Sea Alfa when it began making water and sinking off the Kent coast on Friday 9th May.

Multraship salvage specialists were called in and advised the tug master to beach the dredger on a beach between Deal and Kingsdown on the Kent coast to prevent the vessel sinking.

A full salvage spread was then mobilised by Multraship on the tug Viking and by helicopter from Nieuwpoort.

Working on site with the added assistance of fast-response craft Multraship Responder salvage divers conducted a thorough inspection.

The sources of water ingress on both sides and via one vent cover were established and sealed. The vessel was then pumped out, refloated and after a full diving inspection towed to Holland.

Goliath was unmanned and had 130 tonnes of fuel oil aboard. There were no casualties and no spillages.

Leendert Muller, managing director of Multraship, says, “We worked closely with the UK SOSREP organisation and the MCA on this job, and we are pleased that the liaison went very smoothly and we were able to beach the craft to avoid the more difficult salvage, greater damage and potential pollution that would have occurred had it sank out at sea.”

Vlaanderen VII on the rocks in Glengad last summer
Vlaanderen VII on the rocks in Glengad last summer

Related Link: http://www.sandandgravel.com/news/article.asp?v1=11860
author by Marc Springpublication date Sat Jun 06, 2009 00:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Feel free to use some or all of this in your own letters, and to criticise (constructively please) - I haven't sent it myself yet, gonna sleep on it.

To Whom it may concern:

I wish to register my disquiet at the involvement of Van Oord in the Corrib Gas Project in County Mayo, in the West of Ireland.

Your website states that Van Oord ‘contributes to a safe and prosperous world’ and is ‘shaping the world for decades to come. In a sustainable way, that balances ambition with responsibility.’

I wish to inform you of some issues surrounding the Corrib Gas Project which will no doubt make you reconsider your involvement in it, in view of your publicised commitment to these fine principles. In particular the words ‘safe’, ‘prosperous’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘responsibility’ are a good basis for examining the Corrib Gas Project, of which the principal partner is Shell E&P Ireland Ltd.

Safety: I am very disturbed to find that Van Oord is working closely with IRMS security guards, who are responsible for physical abuse of peaceful protestors. For example, only this morning, a security guard bent back the thumb of a protestor aboard the Van Oord dredger ‘Rezende Bol’; the protestor was taken to hospital where tests revealed damaged ligaments. In the same incident another protestor was violently pushed from the deck by two security guards, injuring his back, and fell more than six feet from the deck into the water. In the longer term, the Corrib Gas Project compromises the safety of local residents in the following way: normally, gas is depressurised and odourised at sea for safety reasons, but Shell intends that this will happen inland in this case in order to reduce costs. The pressure in the incoming pipeline would be up to 70 times that of a domestic gas pipeline. This pipeline will pass as close as 140 metres to dwellings. Even Shell consultants have conceded that safe shelter in the event of a rupture has not been identified for residents living close to the pipeline, and that houses within 230 metres of the pipeline could “burn spontaneously” from heat radiation if gas in the pipe was at full pressure. For local residents to be subjected to this level of risk is practially unprecedented on the planet.

Prosperity: Due to its ability and willingness to bribe corrupt individuals, Shell obtained terms for the gas extraction which were more favourable than in almost any other European country. If Shell can land the gas, it will in effect own all of it – it has the right to sell the gas at market prices. The Irish government will receive only a 25% share in profits, and all costs will be written off against this. With the gas field worth up to €8 billion, this lost revenue may be the single most damaging blow to Irish prosperity in the past two decades.

Sustainability: The environmental damage already done by the project is plain to see for all those who, like myself, enjoy holidaying in that area. Diesel spills, overturned Portaloos with chemicals spilling onto the beach, and permanent damage to a rare-bird nesting site in the Special Area of Conservation adjoining the landfall site have occurred. And, once the terminal is open, the process of cleaning natural gas from a gas field will result in the production of thousands of tonnes of heavy metals, including arsenic, mercury and lead.

Responsibility: Responsiblity for the theft of our natural resources, the despoliation of a beautiful enviroment and the abuse of peaceful protestors, cannot be evaded by those who aid and abet these crimes. I sincerely hope that Van Oord will reconsider its involvement in this criminal project.

Yours sincerely


author by Snugpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 20:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice one all would be great to fight light with light if possible

author by Ray - Cork Shell to Seapublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 18:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Been on the phone to the camp a few hours ago or so, and there was another action early this morning, which again successfully stopped dredging for several hours once again. No word as to arrests, but if I got it right there was one incredibly daring escape from the clutches of an arresting garda on the part of one of the actioneers. More details will no doubt come later today/tomorrow morning from the Solidarity camp's very capable media team.

The company involved in the dredging of Broadhaven Bay this year is called Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV, based in Rotterdam in Holland. Last year's dredging company was different, but I cannot remember their name. Well here's some contact details for the current shower of dredgers, and let's start going after the corporate accessories to this violent theft of wealth and future from us all. Remember how people all around the world hounded Allseas SA and the Solitaire by phone and email last year?

One further note: Van Oord are involved as a main contractor on the Limerick Tunnel project, which they're happy to tell you about on their website, but there's no mention at all of their involvement with the Corrib Gas Project. Maybe their greenwash is important to them somehow, and maybe they don't fancy negative publicity. Why don't we give them some then, eh?

Van Oord's website homepage:

Head office postal address for general mail:
Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV
PO Box 8574
3009 AN Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Visiting address:
Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV
Watermanweg 64
3067 GG Rotterdam
The Netherlands
T 31 10 447844
F 31 10 4478100
E info@vanoord.com

This is a contact for their 'newsroom', i.e. Media and PR:
A.G.M. (Bert) Groothuizen
Manager Marketing & Public Relations
T 31 10 4478234
F 31 10 4478100
E info@vanoord.com

On their 'agenda' page there is mention of this following event. Maybe they are keynote speakers at this conference, or that they will have a large trade exhibition presence there. Details from the conference website are sketchy, so more research is needed. There are other events for later in the year at which they'll either attend or participate in, but I think the event at the end of this month may be a place where Van Oord can be shamed publicly about its involvement in Shell's destruction of Broadhaven Bay.

The Flood and Coastal Risk Management Conference 2009 - 30 June 2009 - 02 July 2009
The International Centre, Telford, UK
(Telford is in Shropshire, west-central England, I think. Nearish to Birmingham anyway. The risks in coastal management must be enormous these days, if this conference has to be held in a place as far from the sea as you can get on the island of Britain!)

And if anybody else can find extra contact details for Van Oord personnel connected to this project, by all means share them with the indymedia readership here!

Related Link: http://www.corribsos.com
author by blulupublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 17:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Love to all in Mayo. Coming yer way for the solitaire. See ye there!

author by hpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 16:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

see you all very soon.

author by cable - Shell to Sea ~ Cambridgepublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 16:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Best wishes to all the people working to stop Shell's crazy project.

author by Stevo - Galway S2Spublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 15:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is it time to begin stockpiling dragon boats or other silly looking inflatables? long as they can hold an adult they're effective. Doubly so cos they make Gards & security look silly for pursuing them.

Was reminded by a message earlier that it was suggested that there was a reason last year that the Solitaire spent a long time in Killibegs at thousands of Eur per day hiring fee. Somebody last year had the idea that this was because the Solitaire had been told by local police that if they waited a while the protestors would be quietened and work would be able to continue uninterrupted. So I was wondering about the headspace of those contracted by Shell to do work. further suggestions were made that the stinger was self sabotaged in order for the boat to get out of contract.
Point I'm getting to is are the contracted likely to turn away from the project if protest is loud enough. do think this was talked about last weekend but seems to be a direction to be pursued again. Approaches being made to those that Shell are contracting for work, to attempt to explain the impact of the work being carried out.
If the dredgers can be persuaded to leave the bay, as I believe has happened from earlier messages. can other people also be persuaded not to carry out work?

Good luck, people. Hope there is going to be a major influx of protesters to the area. Also hope that people aren't dense enough to believe TV3 guff. Was good to see the article from the Irish Times today showing that not all media coverage is as detrimental as Williams is.

author by Petesypublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 15:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Inspirational stuff. Keep it up!

author by shane in derry/donegal - wsm pers cappublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 15:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hurrah! Fair play to ye ! Well done! Keep it up!!

author by Foxpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 15:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Keep up the struggle. Remember today is World Environmental Day.

author by Soundmigrationpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 15:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

fair play and see yas soon!!

author by DMpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 15:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

y'all are making me proud

author by Chrissie - Shell to Sea Cambridgepublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 13:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to all the brave defenders of Ireland's environment & resources. We'll be with you soon.

author by Jen Debenderpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 13:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Keeping an eye on the dredger occupiers
Keeping an eye on the dredger occupiers

Kayak support team!
Kayak support team!

Inflatables vs. motorboats
Inflatables vs. motorboats

Sitting on the crane
Sitting on the crane

Shell to hell!
Shell to hell!

author by Ray - Cork Shell to Seapublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for an excellent report of a most effective and daring action. This reminds us that effective direct action is still possible, even in the most unpromising of circumstances (but the struggle up in Mayo is looking more winnable by the day). My love and congratulations to everyone involved in this action, and I hope everyone's safe and well after their brush with the Shell and Garda Szekler Legions (if you take your orders from fascists you may as well be one too). The photos look fab too - I can't wait to head back up to Mayo!

Related Link: http://www.corribsos.com
author by Jen Debenderpublication date Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shell to hell!

The Macbel is a 'safety boat'
The Macbel is a 'safety boat'

Rearin' to go!
Rearin' to go!

Maneuvering past security
Maneuvering past security

View of the bay
View of the bay

Boarding the dredger
Boarding the dredger

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