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Shell oil rig leaves Seattle amid protests

Shell oil rig leaves Seattle amid protests
© Getty Images

The Polar Pioneer, a Royal Dutch Shell oil rig, left the Port of Seattle on Monday, heading to Alaska ahead of an oil exploration campaign in the Arctic Ocean. 

Several protesters in kayaks — calling themselves "kayaktivists" — took to the port to block the rig's departure but were instead detained by the Coast Guard, the Seattle Times reports.

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A Greenpeace spokeswoman told the Times that about 50 protesters had taken to the port to try blocking the rig. The Coast Guard detained 13 of the protesters for violating a 500-yard safety buffer around the vessel.

The rig left the port behind tugs after a long-simmering dispute between city officials and Shell. Since mid-May, Seattle and state officials have tried to keep Shell away from the city, arguing the port didn't have the permits needed to host an oil drilling fleet.

Shell plans to send two rigs to the Arctic Ocean to begin exploring for oil this summer.

The Obama administration approved the company's drilling in plan in May, a move deeply opposed by environmental groups who have warned that an oil spill in the Arctic would be very difficult to clean up.

A federal appeals court cleared Shell's oil spill recovery plan last week after green groups had challenged it.