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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Shell To State: We're In Seattle Legally Through End Of June

The Polar Pioneer and hundreds of kayaking protesters on Seattle's Duwamish Waterway on May 16, 2015.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan
The Polar Pioneer and hundreds of kayaking protesters on Seattle's Duwamish Waterway on May 16, 2015.

Shell Oil has rejected state officials' position that parking an Arctic oil rig at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 violates the state constitution.

Shell's Polar Pioneer rig has been at the port since mid-May. Its arrival in environmentally-minded Seattle has sparked protest and government scrutiny at various levels.


Shell told the Washington Department of Natural Resources on Monday that it plans to keep its oil rig in Seattle until the end of June.

It might bring a second rig here as well before sending them up to the Arctic Ocean this summer.

Shell says it plans to keep one or both of the rigs in Seattle from November through next June as well.

DNR told Shell in May that tying up at the port short-term is fine. But long-term mooring? That would be unconstitutional. The state constitution prohibits long-term private use of state-owned waterways.

The Polar Pioneer is moored in the state-owned portion of the Duwamish Waterway.

In response, Shell says its rig is not blocking navigation on the Duwamish and it's only doing what many ships do there. The letter says DNR's effort to single out Shell will have unintended repercussions on the maritime industry as a whole.

DNR officials say they are reviewing Shell's letter. They say they determine what is a long-term, and thus illegal, use of state waterways case by case.

Shell's response to the Washington Department of Natural Resources:

Year started with KUOW: 2009