Coastal GasLink, the TC Energy natural gas pipeline under construction between Dawson Creek and Kitimat, says it is aware of anonymous claims made on an anarchist website of a “coordinated sabotage attack” on the project.
The article published on an anarchist website claims that sections of the Coastal GasLink pipeline have been vandalized over the past few months with a goal to “contribute to the small delays” in the already over-budget project.
“We drilled holes less than a penny wide in a section of pipe that had not yet been lowered into the trench. We covered the holes with fiberglass film, which temporarily prevents leaks in the pipes, but only lasts a few months,” the article claims.
The 670-kilometre pipeline is now expected to cost around $14.5 billion and that could climb by another $1.2 billion if construction continues into 2024.
“While we have no evidence at this time to suggest tampering has occurred, we take every threat to the integrity of our pipeline infrastructure very seriously,” CGL said in a media release on Monday, Feb. 27.
“We are fully cooperating with the RCMP in an investigation of these claims and as always, will prioritize the safety of our work crews and the communities around us. Our quality assurance team has initiated a review of the anarchist claims.”
Meanwhile, the RCMP is not commenting on these latest allegations but does say that all incidents of reported damage to infrastructure or equipment are investigated fully.
Staff Sergeant Kris Clark, a media relations officer with the RCMP, said police are aware of “ongoing efforts by some individuals and groups to delay or obstruct the work of Coastal GasLink.”
These latest claims follow what CGL calls “a concerning trend of escalating violence” from an alleged axe attack at a Coastal GasLink site near Houston a year ago to an alleged arson attack on first responder vehicles in Smithers last October.
“Attacks to energy infrastructure should concern all Canadians. Regardless of their authenticity, we believe these claims are intended to delay our project and spread fear and violence,” CGL said.
“They must not be tolerated or accepted, and we believe most Canadians would agree.”
Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross said he takes the website’s claims “very seriously” in a Feb. 27 interview with Black Press Media, adding the online article seems to be written by someone with knowledge of the project.
The article further details how welded sections of coated pipe are assessed before being lowered into the trench. After the trench is backfilled, they are tested under pressure. The holes were sealed in the hope that they would pass the first pressure test, but will have to be excavated and repaired before the pipeline is completed, the article says.
“It’s somebody who understands how the logistics of the pipeline work,” said Ross.
“I want to know what we’re going to do as a province to combat these terrorist activities.”
Another article on the same website claims responsibility for burning RCMP vehicles and an ambulance in Smithers last October. Ross wants to know the results of investigations into that and of the on-site axe attack incident yielded.
Ross believes the website is part of a sophisticated, two-pronged campaign against the pipeline.
One is what he calls “coordinated assaults” on pipeline workers and torching police vehicles. The other is in communicating through websites that are hard to track.
“This is dangerous. This is terrorism. I think it’s time that we address this violence,” said Ross.
“And those that condone this have got to be called out. This is not the society we want to live in.”
CGL added the thousands people working on major projects such as its pipeline deserve to work in a safe environment, “without fear of sabotage or other violent attacks, while they provide for their families and communities.”
“Coastal GasLink is focused on safely completing this critical piece of energy infrastructure that will deliver critical Canadian LNG to the world and lasting prosperity to Canadians.”
The company highlighted that inspections are done “at every step of the way during pipeline construction,” from the time trenching begins to the point the pipeline is backfilled.
“Our teams use state-of-the-art pipeline safety systems to carefully inspect every section of pipe, not to mention the rigorous testing we do before the pipeline is commissioned,” CGL wrote.
“We recognize that there are different opinions about projects like Coastal GasLink, however threats of tampering, sabotage, and violence are never justified.”
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