June 18, 1995 in Nation/World

Greenpeace Drops Supplies To Members On Oil Platform Protests, Boycotts Of Shell Stations Spread To Britain

Edith M. Lederer Associated Press
 

Dodging water jets fired from nearby ships, a Greenpeace helicopter dropped supplies Saturday to two activists who are occupying an oil drilling platform that Shell wants to ditch in the Atlantic Ocean.

“They’re prepared to go down with the Brent Spar” oil rig, said Greenpeace spokeswoman Cheryl Baxter. “They’re not going to move.”

Despite mounting pressure in Europe, rig owner Shell U.K. Ltd. is pressing ahead with its plans to sink the 65,000-ton installation in 1 1/2-mile-deep international waters 150 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.

The rig is under tow northwest of the islands. The two Greenpeace activists were dropped on the platform Friday by helicopter.

The helicopter returned to the Brent Spar on Saturday to drop food, warm clothing and sleeping bags to the men and had to dodge spray from jets on standby vessels around the platform, which made the flight “very dangerous,” Baxter said.

Putting the two activists on the oil platform was intended to dramatize Greenpeace’s claims that sinking the platform will poison the sea with 130 tons of waste. It wants the rig disposed of on land.

Environmentalists are also concerned that dumping the huge metal structure will create a precedent that would allow the ocean floor to be used as an underwater junkyard.

On Saturday, Greenpeace said samples taken from the rig during a previous occupation in May indicate there are still 5,000 tons of oil on the rig. Shell U.K. denied the allegation and said the storage tanks were flushed out into a tanker in 1991, when the rig was decommissioned.

Chris Faye, chairman and chief executive of Shell U.K., said dumping the rig at sea remains “by far the best option” for the environment, health and safety.

“It is very difficult to have second thoughts when you have carried out three years of studies, you are conforming to international law, to rules that have been drawn up in the North Sea and agreed to by all the European countries,” he said on BBC Radio.

Greenpeace protesters started picketing Shell gas stations across Britain on Saturday, joining a boycott of Shell that began in Germany earlier this week and spread to the Netherlands and Switzerland.

“It’s been pretty successful,” Baxter said. “Our people report a very good response from the public for Greenpeace.”

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