Vandals lay waste to Canadian pipeline site — Analysis

Violent protesters reportedly left a Coastal GasLink pipeline worksite in Houston, British Columbia in ruins, causing millions of dollars in damages in what the company claimed was a “Highly planned” and “unprovoked” assault on its property.

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A statement from the company issued on Thursday said that about 20 vandals had broken the lock of a gate and entered the work site. The demonstrators were alleged to have attempted to set fire at a vehicle, even though workers were still in the building. Other vandals used axes to destroy trucks and sheds. “Workers were also hit with flare guns,” the statement claimed.

The site’s photos show huge earth-moving machinery lying on its back, broken trailers, and equipment that is so badly damaged it is difficult to recognize. The attackers allegedly sawed off fuel and hydraulic lines. Coastal GasLink was left scrambling for ways to minimize the effects on the environment.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers tried to answer distress calls at the site but were stopped by blocks made of spiked boards, downed trees and stumps coated in tar. According to police, the officers were attacked with smoke bombs before being blown away by flaming torchlights as they tried to clear out the street.

Despite the extensive damage to the site and the use of weapons by the attackers, neither pipeline workers nor police officers sustained injuries. The RCMP did not make any arrests at the scene and has requested assistance to identify the vandals.

The pipeline, which has been controversially blocked before, was subject to multiple attacks. Authorities have attempted to enforce court injunctions, arresting demonstrators in 2019 and 2020, but a more recent blockade by one of the local Wet’suwet’en Nation clans stranded 500 workers near the site, leaving a bridge partially destroyed. 

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Police ultimately staged a “rescue mission” to evacuate the pipeline workers, claiming they were nearly out of essential supplies. But the clan behind the blockade accused RCMP officials of obstructing their supply.

It is designed to transport natural gas to Kitimat where it will then be processed and exported. However, the project is only 60% complete, and clan elders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation continue to oppose it.

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