After being beset by violent protesters, Coastal GasLink is sharing new footage and information about how their employees were reportedly terrorized in BC this week.
On February 17, Houston RCMP said it was investigating after a group of protesters allegedly executed a coordinated attack on a remote worksite in the Northern Interior just after midnight.
No group has claimed responsibility yet for the incident. About nine workers fled for safety during the attack.
“The attackers disabled lighting and video surveillance at the worksite as part of the coordinated attack,” said Coastal GasLink.
“Heavy equipment on-site was commandeered and utilized to cause significant damage to other heavy equipment and trailers.”
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“We are still assessing the full value and inventory of damaged equipment and property at this time; however, the initial damage estimate is in the millions of dollars.”
The worksite is 60 km from Houston, BC, and is only accessible via a service road. The area is roughly a 13-hour drive from Vancouver.
Police said that when they arrived, they saw the roadway blocked with “downed trees, tar-covered stumps, wire, boards with spikes in them, and fires had been lit throughout the debris.”
Coastal GasLink says there was even a yellow school bus used to block the road.
Police had to work their way through the traps, and as they did so, protesters threw smoke bombs and fire-lit sticks at police, injuring one officer.
Kent Wilfur, Coastal GasLink’s Vice President Project Delivery, said in a release “our people were terrorized during this violent incident.
“In the last 24 hours, I have had the opportunity to hear from our workforce, Indigenous and community leaders, governments, and our partners, and all have expressed their outrage about this attack.”
“We appreciate the outpouring of support for our workers, including the labour unions who represent them, and stand together in condemning these actions,” he said.
In the weeks leading up to the incident, Coastal GasLink said their workers were intimidated, confronted, and disrupted by unknown people accessing the construction site via forest trails. The company says they don’t know if those events are related to the attack on February 17.
Now, the worksite is an active crime scene controlled by RCMP.
“This is a very troubling escalation in violent criminal activity that could have resulted in serious injury or death. This was a calculated and organized violent attack that left victims shaken and a multimillion-dollar path of destruction,” said RCMP Chief Superintendent Warren Brown in a statement.
“While we respect everyone’s right to peacefully protest in Canada, we cannot tolerate this type of extreme violence and intimidation. Our investigators will work tirelessly to identify the culprits and hold them accountable for their actions.”
Coastal Gaslink says they’re continuing to provide support to its workforce and the individuals affected by the attack.
“Everyone deserves to have a safe workplace and we are disturbed by the level of violence and destruction,” they said.
As soon as the police investigation is done, Coastal GasLink will finalize its damage assessment and resume construction.
“It’s important to note that work is safely continuing along the rest of the 670 km pipeline project route, which is nearly 60 percent complete,” they said.
“We are aware of reports that wrongly suggest that this attack was staged. We find these suggestions offensive and irresponsible as they only serve to retraumatize the workers who experienced the violent attack,” Wilfur said.
With files from Amir Ali.