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Activists protest Shell's Finnish icebreaker rental

Greenpeace activists boarded icebreakers in Helsinki on Friday morning in a protest against Arctic oil drilling. They went on board the Fennica and Nordica boats at Hietalahti harbour.

Greenpeacen aktivisteja monitoimimurtajalla.
Greenpeacen aktivisteja monitoimimurtajalla. Image: Yle

Some 40 activists from five different countries were on board the vessels in protest at Shell's plans to drill for oil in polar regions. The two Finnish ships are booked to travel to the Alaskan coast in the summer to assist the company’s exploration operations.

The environmentalists are sceptical about the safety measures in place to protect fragile ecosystems.

"The drilling itself is really difficult, so the possibility of an accident is high,” Greenpeace activist Sini Saarela told YLE News from deck of Fennica. ”If there is an accident happening and oil starts leaking out, there are really few possibilities to stop the leak, and the oil could be leaking out for weeks or months.”

Finland has agreed to rent Shell the icebreakers in the summers of 2012, 2013 and 2014. The firm’s goal is to become the first company to draw oil in the Arctic. They plan five explorative drilling operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

More than 230,000 people worldwide have sent a plea to Shell not to begin drilling in the Arctic.

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