Activists unfurl colored banners while hanging from the St. Johns bridge in Portland on July 29, 2015, to protest the departure of Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica.
Don Ryan—AP
By Tanya Basu
July 30, 2015

Greenpeace activists swung off Portland, Ore.’s St. Johns Bridge on Wednesday in an attempt to stop a Shell Oil Arctic icebreaker from leaving the city.

Thirteen protestors rappelled off the city’s tallest bridge, with 13 others remaining on the bridge as lookouts, according to the Associated Press.

The activists are equipped with food and water for days and are capable of hoisting themselves up to allow other ships to pass, said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

The Royal Dutch Shell PLC icebreaker Fennica arrived in Portland last week for repairs after being damaged earlier this month in the Aleutian Islands when it hit an underwater obstruction, causing its hull to rip apart. Fennica is an important part of Shell’s exploration fleet of ships and spill-response team off the Alaskan northwest coast.

The activists are worried that the area Fennica is going to go to will block cleanup efforts should a spill occur. They had hoped the Obama administration would have rejected permit requests from Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea. Instead, the administration gave Shell the go-ahead to begin limited exploration of oil drilling sites.

The bridge danglers hope the delay will kill the amount of time Shell will have to explore the Alaskan coast, as the summer season is winding down. They’re also hoping the government might reconsider its approval of the plan.

“These climbers hanging on the bridge really are at this point the last thing standing between Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic and the Arctic,” Leonard said.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that combined Arctic offshore reserves in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas amount to about 26 billion barrels of oil.

Write to Tanya Basu at tanya.basu@time.com.

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