Greenpeace ship accused of breaking environmental laws in Alaska by not filing oil-spill response plan

Friday, July 23rd 2004, 6:11 am
By: News On 6

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska prosecutors have accused Greenpeace of breaking environmental laws, citing the activist group's ship for not submitting oil spill prevention documents before entering state waters.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, with 27 activists on board, is touring Southeast Alaska to protest logging in the Tongass National Forest.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation cited the ship July 14 for not filing an oil spill response plan or having a certificate of financial responsibility in case of a spill, which large non-tankers are required by state law to do five days before entering state waters.

Department of Law spokesman Mark Morones said the misdemeanor charges were filed Thursday.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Carol Gregory said Thursday she did not know charges had been filed. She said the matter was an oversight and the proper forms were filed as soon as it was discovered.

``It was a clerical error about paperwork and not about environmental protection,'' Gregory said. ``We're Greenpeace. Of course we want to work within all environmental laws.''

Prosecutors filed charges against Greenpeace, Arctic Sunrise Capt. Arne Sorenson and the ship's agent, Willem Jan Beekman. The criminal negligence charges carry a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $10,000 fine for an individual and $200,000 for an organization.

The ship was ordered to anchor July 14 until the documents were filed. The ship resumed its passage in violation of the order and was stopped again, according to the department.