Megaload Protestors Take-Over Bellevue Office
*Thursday, December 12, 2013*
BELLEVUE, WA – Today, over a dozen protestors with the group Rising Tide Seattle took over the offices of a General Electric subsidiary to protest their role in the tar sands oil extraction project in Canada. Protestors are concerned about equipment designed by General Electric’s “Thermal Products” business for use in heavy oil extraction in the tar sands. The equipment is currently being transported across eastern Oregon on an oversized load, referred to as “megaloads”. Protestors delivered a letter and occupied the office disrupting work for about an hour.
“By designing and shipping this tar sands equipment General Electric is facilitating the genocide of first nations communities in Alberta, destruction of the Boreal forest and catastrophic climate change,” said Karen Looney, a spokesperson for Rising Tide Seattle.
The object of today’s protest is an oversized load, referred to as a ‘megaload’, carrying an “evaporator” designed by GE for use in the Alberta tar sands oil project, which environmentalists call the most destructive project on earth. General Electric has contracted with Hillsboro based Omega-Morgan to move three megaloads in December and January, the first of which is now on the road in eastern Oregon. The shipment weighs 450 tons and measures 378 feet long, 22 feet wide and over 18 feet tall and is only permitted to travel between 8 PM and 6 AM.
A coalition of environmentalists and members of the Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes is attempting to stop the megaloads from reaching their destination. Last week the megaload was stopped at the Port of Umatilla when two men locked themselves to the trucks hauling the equipment. The following day Cathy Sampson-Kruse, a grandmother and member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla was arrested for attempting to block the load by laying down in the road.
“People are going to use every tool they have to stop these dangerous Megaloads. From legal challenges to civil disobedience,” said Looney
Inside General Electric’s offices protestors activists as janitorial staff offered to “greenwash” the company’s image. One participant held a banner reading “GE: Cleaner GEnocide”. General Electric claims that its controversial “evaporators” make tar sands operations more efficient by recycling water.
“General Electric’s main contribution to the tar sands is helping to engineer a more efficient genocide on the land and people of Alberta,” said Kyle Miskell, one of the participants in today’s protest.
Controversy has followed attempts to move tar sands megaloads through the northwest over the past three years. Last August a megaload carrying similar equipment designed by GE faced four nights of protest and blockades crossing the Nez Perce reservation in Idaho. 28 Tribal Members were arrested as part of the blockades including 8 members of the Nez Perce tribal council. Following the blockades legal challenges secured a court injunction preventing further megaloads from crossing the reservation on Highway 12 until a study on their impacts is completed.
Activists and tribal members are exploring their options for a legal challenge to the megaload’s permit and preparing for more sustained civil disobedience to stop the shipments from moving. While today’s protest in Bellevue was going on another group visited the Hillsboro, Oregon offices of hauler Omega-Morgan.
“People across the northwest are working together to stop our region from being turned into a superhighway for the fossil fuel industry,” said Miskell. “We are putting together the infrastructure to block these shipments and any new fossil fuel infrastructure that manages to get permitted for our region.”