Paul Ruzycki: Arctic oil drilling never worth it

Paul Ruzycki of Greenpeace spoke to the CBC’s Joanna Awa about his arrest during a protest against oil drilling in the Russian Arctic last fall. ‘No oil and mineral exploration in the Arctic is worth it, in my opinion.’

“For... the First Nations around the Arctic, Arctic oil drilling equals spills.'

Paul Ruzycki, chief mate on the Arctic Sunrise, has been with Greenpeace for 25 years. (Courtesy Ruzycki family)

Paul Ruzycki of Greenpeace has a story to tell.

He was one of 28 activists who were arrested and jailed in Russia last fall, while trying to hang a banner on an oil rig in the Russian Arctic.

This morning, he spoke with the CBC’s Joanna Awa, guest host of the Nunavut morning radio show Qulliq, about that experience and his views on drilling for oil in Arctic waters. (To hear the full interview click the link on the left.)

He began the interview by addressing Greenpeace’s history in the Arctic. That began with an anti-sealing campaign in the 1970s, which many Inuit find hard to forget.

“For the local people listening, we haven’t had any seal campaigns since the mid 1970s,” Ruzycki said. “Greenpeace does support the indigenous people’s rights. We’ve always supported the indigenous people’s rights in different cultures around the world.”

Ruzycki went on to speak about the current campaign against Arctic oil drilling, as well as his experience being on a ship that was boarded by armed Russian officers who dropped down from a helicopter.

“They actually fired several shots in the water around the people in the inflatables,” he says.

Russian police then towed the ship for five days back to the nearest Arctic port in Murmansk.

Ruzycki spent almost two months in a Russian prison before being granted amnesty in December.

He says Greenpeace engages only in peaceful, non-violent protest, and the goal of this one was to raise awareness of what’s going on in the Arctic right now.

“No oil and mineral exploration in the Arctic is worth it, in my opinion,” he told Awa.

Ruzycki has visited the American, Russian and Danish parts of the Arctic, but never the Canadian Arctic. However, he did have a strong message for local people there.

“For my friends in the Canadian Arctic and the First Nations around the Arctic, Arctic oil drilling equals spills. Where there’s oil drilled, there will be a spill or an accident. This will affect the local communities, including the hunting, the fishing, their traditional way of life. There’s no technology to clean up an oil spill, that I’m aware of, in the ice.”


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