Coast Guard cites Bellingham protesters, initiates civil penalties

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Bellingham, Wash., assist Chiara D’Angelo, an activist, down from the anchor chain of Arctic Challenger in the Port of Bellingham, May 25, 2015. D’Angelo was taken back to Station Bellingham, where she was evaluated by EMS and released. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Bellingham)

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Bellingham, Wash., assist Chiara D’Angelo, an activist, down from the anchor chain of Arctic Challenger in the Port of Bellingham, May 25, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Bellingham)

SEATTLE — Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound investigating officers initiated civil penalties, Friday, against four individuals who entered an established safety-zone around a Shell-contracted vessel in Bellingham during Memorial Day weekend.

Cody Erdman, Chiara D’Angelo, Paul Adler and Matthew Fuller were cited in accordance with Code of Federal Regulations for entry into or staying in a federally-regulated safety zone between May 22 and 24.

Coast Guard officials can seek a maximum civil penalty of $40,000 for each entry into the zone or day the individuals violated the zone. The final penalty will be determined by the Coast Guard Hearing Office in Arlington, Va. Hearing officers will be assigned and provide the individuals an opportunity to refute the charges or provide evidence on their behalf.

On April 28, the Coast Guard established 100-yard safety zones around Arctic drilling and support vessels while moored or anchored, and a 500-yard safety zone while transiting to allow maximum use of the waterway by all users consistent with safe navigation.

“The Coast Guard supports and defends the rights of the public to assemble peacefully and protest; however, prolonged violations of the safety zones tax Coast Guard resources and crews hindering the Service’s ability to quickly respond to mariners in distress or other life-threatening emergencies,” said Capt. Joe Raymond, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound and captain of the port. “Most importantly, prolonged safety violations unnecessarily put protesters and law enforcement personnel at risk due to rapidly changing environmental conditions, fatigue and marine traffic.”

The Coast Guard assisted Fuller May 24 and D’Angelo May 25 from the Arctic Challenger and both were transported to Station Bellingham where they were met by EMS and the Bellingham Police Department. D’Angelo was issued a summons by the local police department.

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