APTN National News
HAMILTON, Ont.— The occupation of an Enbridge pumping station in southern Ontario is just the beginning of widespread actions against the company and the Alberta tar sands, according to a spokesperson for the protest.
The protest, spearheaded by a group of grassroots people from the Six Nations Iroquois community near Hamilton, Ont., began at about 6 a.m. Thursday and was expected to last throughout the day. The about 60 protestors, which include activists from outside Six Nations, oppose Enbridge’s plans to reverse the flow of the company’s Line 9 oil pipeline which would bring Alberta tar sands oil east.
“This is a huge risk, from my point of view, to our lands, our waters and our future generations. It’s my responsibility to stand for our lands,” said Melissa Elliott, 22, who is Tuscarora from Six Nations, which has the largest population of any reserve in the country. “We don’t want an oil spill to happen in our territory.”
Elliott said Thursday’s protest is the opening salvo in cross-country actions against the tar sands in Alberta and Enbridge’s plans to move oil from west to east. She said Six Nation’s sister communities of Tyendinaga and Akwesasne would also be involved in future planned actions.
“We are standing here in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in ground zero of the tar sands and out West in British Columbia where they are also stopping pipelines,” said Elliott. “There are actions that are going to happen all along Line 9.”
A spokesman for Enbridge said the protestors have let workers into the site, but it required extensive negotiations which had halted construction at the terminal. Graham White said the company hoped to reach a settlement with the protestors that would allow them to continue voicing their message without impeding the construction work in the terminal.
White wouldn’t say whether the company had begun efforts to seek an injunction to force the protestors off the site.
“We are going to have to perhaps employ some measures if it is not resolved in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.
A Hamilton police spokesperson said officers were monitoring the protest which had so far unfolded without incident.
“As it stands, it is peaceful and there is nothing to suggest otherwise,” said Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning. “There is no one identifying as a group under a particular name, it is just individuals that have come together.”
The protest has managed to stop construction at Enbridge’s North Westover terminal which stems from the recent National Energy Board ruling approving phase one of the company’s plan pipeline reversal. The NEB allowed for the reversal of oil along Line 9A which runs from Sarnia, Ont., to North Westover.
The second phase of the project, or Line 9B would reverse oil between North Westover and Montreal.
The North Westover terminal also handles Lines 10 and 11 through which foreign light crude from places like the Middle East, South America and North Africa flows from the Port of Montreal to points west, including the Imperial Oil refinery in Nanticoke, Ont., Sarnia and other destinations in the U.S.
Elliott said the protest would last as long as it could.
“This is just starting, it is going to keep going and we’ll keep fighting,” said Elliott. “We are fighting the tar sands.”