Image: Screen Capture. “Video: Activist hospitalised after boats rammed during peaceful protest against oil drilling.” Greenpeace International Website, 15 Nov 2014. Web. Accessed 02 Dec 2014. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingw
Dramatic footage of a Spanish navy boat ramming into a Greenpeace vessel during a protest has gone viral. The incident, which occurred off the Canary Islands in mid- November, resulted in injuries to several activists. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at this unfortunate event, the substance of Greenpeace’s protest, and consequences of the encounter.
In August of 2014, the Spanish government approved oil exploration in the Canary Islands by Spanish energy company, Repsol. According to a Repsol spokesman, the reservoir that they may find can reduce Spain’s energy dependency from 99.9% to around 90%– an import savings of around €4bn. The government approval came on the heels of a favorable environmental impact statement from the country’s environment ministry, as well as the top court’s rejection of seven appeals against the exploration.
Environmental organizations like Greenpecae, WWF, and Friends of the Earth are against the decision, as are local people and island authorities who fear for the area’s prized tourism and fishing industries.
The Ramming Incident
According to the Spanish ministry of defense, the Greenpeace activists did not heed requests to keep out of an exclusion zone, and that the navy crew were tasked with preventing the harassment and boarding of the drilling ship by activists. On the other hand, the Greenpeace captain Joel Stewart had responded to the requests to keep away by emphasizing Greenpeace’s duty to protect the environment.
The unfortunate result of these conflicting objectives? A collision—described by many as appearing deliberate on the part of the Spanish navy—which caused injuries to activists like 23-year-old Matilda Brunetti whose leg had been broken. Three other Greenpeace activists had minor injuries. The organization has since expressed its outrage at what it perceived to be “unjustified use of force.”
What had happened between Greenpeace and the Spanish Navy is a situation no one would want to be in—a Navy following its orders and protecting a ship, a devoted environmental organization willing to risk their safety; a government aiming for better energy independence and a people struggling with possible environmental fallout. We at Kemplon Engineering hope that solutions and fair agreements may be reached by the parties involved so that what is good for a nation can also be good for the environment, and vice versa.
^ AFP. “Spain clears oil exploration off Canary Islands.” The Guardian, 14 Aug 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/14/spain-clears-oil-exploration-off-canary-islands
^ Associated Press and Damien Gayle. “Spanish navy vessels filmed ‘breaking female Greenpeace activist’s leg’ as they rammed campaigners’ boats during protest by the Canary Islands.” Mail Online, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2836012/Activist-hurt-protest-Canary-Islands.html
^ Heckle, Harold. “Greenpeace: 4 activists hurt off Canary Islands.” Yahoo News, 15 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014. http://news.yahoo.com/activist-hurt-during-protest-off-canary-islands-181905230.html
^ Smith, Isobel. “VIDEO: Spanish Navy rams Greenpeace activists’ RIBs in bid to prevent oil protest.” Yachting & Boating World, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014. http://www.ybw.com/news/motorboats/537592/video-spanish-navy-rams-greenpeace-activists-ribs-in-bid-to-prevent-oil-protest
^ Vaughan, Adam. “Spanish navy rams Greenpeace boat and injures activists.” The Guardian, 17 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/17/spanish-navy-rams-greenpeace-boat-and-injures-activists
^ “Video: Activist hospitalised after boats rammed during peaceful protest against oil drilling.” Greenpeace International, 15 Nov 2014. Web. 02 Dec 2014. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/video-boats-rammed-during-oil-protest/blog/51362/