‘Xena’ actress Lucy Lawless arrested in New Zealand oil protest

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‘Xena’ actress Lucy Lawless arrested in New Zealand oil protest

WELLINGTON - “Xena: Warrior Princess” actress Lucy Lawless was arrested in New Zealand yesterday after occupying an oil-drilling ship for three days to protest plans to search for oil off Alaska, Greenpeace said.

Police climbed a 53-meter (175-foot) drilling derrick on the Noble Discoverer ship in the North Island port of Taranaki and arrested Lawless along with five other Greenpeace activists, the environmental group said.

The group did not try to resist and climbed down the tower before disembarking the ship without incident, police said, while Greenpeace added they had been charged with burglary and would appear in court on Thursday.

The actress boarded the vessel early Friday in a bid to prevent it sailing to the Arctic, where it has been contracted by Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell to conduct exploratory drilling. “This chapter has ended, but the story of the battle to save the Arctic has just begun,” Lawless said in a statement.

The New Zealander, who starred as the title character in the fantasy television series “Xena: Warrior Princess” from 1995-2001, is a long-time environmental activist who was named a Greenpeace ambassador in 2009.

Lawless told AFP on Friday that she was not worried about the prospect of being arrested.

“That’s the least of my concerns,” she said. “I’m a true believer. We need to start switching over to renewable energy now, we don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to suck out every last drop of oil.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior granted Shell conditional provisional approval to begin drilling exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean last August, in a move slammed by conservationists.

U.S. officials had pledged to closely monitor Shell’s plans for four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea to ensure operations are conducted in a “safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

But green groups say it puts wildlife and native communities at risk, citing the vastly complicated task of drilling in the harsh Arctic environment and effectively cleaning up any spills in such conditions. AFP
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