Greenpeace chief denies responsibility in spill law violations

Posted: Monday, May 09, 2005

KETCHIKAN (AP) — The chief operating officer of Greenpeace Inc. said her organization bears no responsibility for a ship that operated under the organization's banner in Alaska waters without a spill prevention plan.

Ellen McPeake was the final prosecution witness Friday in the state's case charging her organization with violating pollution prevention laws.

Greenpeace, Arctic Sunrise Capt. Arne Sorensen and the ship's agent, Willem Beekman, are charged with misdemeanor criminal negligence in the failure to file oil spill response paperwork last summer.

Assistant Attorney General James Fayette's asked McPeake whether Greenpeace bore any responsibility for violations of the law.

''No, it does not,'' McPeake said.

Fayette asked who was the responsible party.

''It is Stichting Marine Service's responsibility,'' McPeake said.

McPeake described the ownership of the Arctic Sunrise and two other ships commonly associated with Greenpeace, as well as how the ships are used by 30 independent Greenpeace organizations around the world.

The ships are owned by Stichting Phoenix, of Amsterdam, and are leased as bare boat charters to Stichting Marine Services, she said. The public is uninterested in the corporate ownership of the ships commonly associated with Greenpeace and Greenpeace groups do nothing to dispel the belief that the ships are owned by Greenpeace, she said.

Stichting Marine Services takes on all aspects of operations, including hiring captains and crews, equipping the vessels and maintaining legal documents, she said. The company then leases the ships to Stichting Greenpeace Council, the governing body of Greenpeace International, at no charge, McPeake said.

Stichting Marine and Greenpeace International have the same street address, according to documents shown to the jury.

An organization such as Greenpeace Inc., also known as Greenpeace USA, obtains the use of a Greenpeace ship by making a proposal to Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International, McPeake said. Greenpeace International licenses the 30 independent national or regional organizations to use its name and logo, but there is no legal relationship between the international organization and the American, she said.

The separation between the several legal entities within the Greenpeace organization means that Greenpeace USA has nothing to do with filling out applications for the type of certificates that were missing aboard the Arctic Sunrise, she said.

The state rested its case following McPeake's testimony. District Court Judge Kevin Miller denied defense motions to dismiss the case.

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