SEATTLE (Reuters) - An activist perched herself on a 15-foot tripod to try to block the entrance of a Royal Dutch Shell fuel-transfer station on Tuesday, in a harbinger of expected protests over the company's plan to store Arctic drilling rigs in Seattle.
Annie Lukins staged her protest on Seattle's Harbor Island a day after the U.S. Department of the Interior conditionally approved Shell's plan to explore for oil in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, where it has not drilled since a mishap-filled 2012 season.
Environmental activists are preparing for three days of demonstrations from May 16 against Shell's plans to store two drilling rigs in Seattle. Protesters say they will meet one of the drilling rigs in kayaks as it arrives in the port later this week.
Seattle resident Lukins erected the tripod early on Tuesday, backed by other anti-Shell activists, according to a news release.
"I want the next generation to be able to eat fish from the ocean whose flesh doesn't carry the killing toxins of crude oil," Lukins said in a statement. "We need to ban Arctic drilling now."
The Puget Sound region has for decades been a hub for equipment used in energy drilling in Alaska even as some environmental groups and politicians have pushed for the region's economy to move beyond oil, gas and coal and into clean energy.
Seattle's planning department ruled the city's port must apply for a permit for the company to use it to store drilling rigs, a decision shipping company Foss Maritime has appealed.
Late on Tuesday, the Port of Seattle commission voted to appeal the city's interpretation of the permit requirements for Terminal 5, which Shell could be using, the port said.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray commended the commission for deciding that the arrival of an off-shore drilling rig should be delayed until the proper permits were in place.
"I now hope Shell will respect the wishes of the Port, the City and the community at large, and not bring an off-shore drilling rig into Elliott Bay."
A Shell spokesman told the Seattle Times newspaper that the company intended to move ahead with the operation as scheduled.
Seattle's City Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday urging the Port of Seattle to reconsider its lease at Terminal 5 to host the rigs for drilling in the Arctic, coveted by energy companies for its long-term potential.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney, Andrew Heavens and Ted Botha)