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Shell protesters damage West Seattle dive park habitat

The activists protesting Shell oil and the impacts drilling has on the environment left behind material used to anchor their protest barge in a popular dive park. (KIRO Radio/Josh Kerns)

The activists protesting Shell oil and the impacts drilling has on the environment left behind material used to anchor their protest barge in a popular dive park.

The barge known as “The People’s Platform” was parked over the dive park near Seacrest Park during last weekend’s protest of Shell and the Polar Pioneer oil rig.

Divers found cement blocks, cables and chains used to anchor the barge, according to Joe Smillie, spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources aquatic division.

“They were mooring [the barge] with cement blocks and cables,” Smillie said. Those are now on the floor of Elliott Bay.

Related: Does protesting Shell really make a difference?

The damage to the park was minimal, Smillie said. Protesters will not face a fine, but will have to pay for the cost of cleanup; that cost has not been determined.

It’s a popular dive location because it’s a habitat for octopus, Smillie added.

The barge is being relocated to an approved area for non-commercial vessels, Smillie said. It can remain there for 30 days.

Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources is requesting more information regarding Foss Maritime’s plans with the oil rig parked off the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5.

The oil rig is in an area that only allows for temporary use, Smillie said. The department is asking Foss how long it plans to keep the Polar Pioneer at its present location.

State-owned aquatic lands platted as waterways are generally reserved as “highways” for navigation under state law. Short-term use, such as loading and unloading, is allowed. However, the oil rig may be violating those laws, Smillie said.

“We’ve asked them for information for their plans, how long they plan to be there, and if they need a permit from us to be moored outside Terminal 5,” he said.

Any long-term storage in the area where the oil rig is moored is not allowed under the State Constitution, Smillie added.

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