Despite allowing workers temporary access to worksites for maintenance, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs say they still oppose the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline.
The pipeline is part of LNG Canada – a $40 billion project consisting of Shell, PETRONAS, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and Korea Gas Corporation – which would export LNG produced by the participants in the Montney Formation gas fields via the port in Kitimat, British Columbia (B.C).
The 670 km CGL would deliver the gas from the area near Dawson Creek to a storage and liquification plant at the port in preparation for shipping to overseas destinations, mostly in Asia.
TC Energy was selected by LNG Canada to design, build, own and operate the pipeline, but despite federal and B.C governments approving the project, the Wet’suwet’en chiefs continue to oppose its construction.
The Indigenous group have been protesting the pipeline for some time, recently issuing an eviction notice to CGL arguing it is a violation of their law to proceed with construction on what is known as Dark Horse territory.
This week, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs granted CGL temporary access to its worksite near Houston to perform maintenance ahead of upcoming cold weather.
“CGL has been granted 6-8 hours access for a work crew to winterize their personnel accommodations and equipment at site 9A, since no personnel will remain at the site during the coming cold snap,” the group said in a press release.
“One time access will be granted to avoid damages to CGL assets and the surrounding environment.
“CGL has confirmed in writing that they will leave Dark House territory after winterizing Site 9A.”
A spokesperson for CGL said it’s focus “remains on finding a peaceful and mutually agreeable resolution”.
“The maintenance work is anticipated to take several hours. We appreciate the agreement of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs for access and are committed to continuing our effort to find common ground,” the spokesperson said.
The action follows an announcement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) that blockades of fallen trees near the pipeline works area had been encountered, along with jugs of gasoline, diesel, oil, kindling and bags of fuel-soaked rags.
The RCMP said it had brought the findings to the attention of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and had launched a criminal investigation.
CGL President David Pfeiffer said protests against the project should not jeopardise the safety of the public.
“Our primary concern is the safety of all users of this public forestry road, including those who wish to protest our activities,” he said.
“Unlawful actions that put people at risk for serious harm are dangerous, reckless and unacceptable, and do not reflect peaceful protest.”
Mr Pfeiffer said he still extended an invitation with the chiefs for a meeting to find common ground.
The chiefs said they remained “steadfast” in their position that a pipeline will not be built on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.
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