UPDATE: Charges Against Enbridge Pipeline Protesters DroppedJanuary 13, 2017 1:14pm
An Enbridge spokesperson says the company is disappointed with the outcome of a court case that saw criminal charges dropped against three protesters who shutdown the Line 9 pipeline in Sarnia December 21, 2015.
In an emailed statement, Suzanne Wilton says tampering with energy infrastructure is very serious and potentially dangerous.
“At Enbridge, the safety of the public, the environment and our workers are always our top priority,” says Wilton. “And tampering with energy infrastructure has the potential to cause real harm to the public, the environment and the activists themselves.”
Vanessa Gray, Sarah Scanlon, and Stone Stewart chained themselves to a valve site off Mandaumin Rd. near Confederation Line and manually shut down the line for about 90 minutes.
All three women were charged with mischief over $5,000 as well as mischief endangering life, and were potentially facing prison time.
In Sarnia court Friday, the three accused agreed to an 18-month common-law bond requiring that they keep the peace and stay off Enbridge property.
Gray is pleased with the outcome.
“I knew we did the right thing, I had the confidence that the pipeline itself was unsafe,” says Gray. “Enbridge wouldn’t want to prove that any endangering of lives happened that day because otherwise it would have to prove that their pipeline was unsafe enough to do so.”
Lawyer Nick Cake of London says the crown was unable to prove the charges.
“If a dangerous backflow situation is created by human tampering or manipulation, then that could happen in a variety of other ways,” says Cake. “So in order to say there is a danger caused by this backflow would have to mean that the pipe would rupture.”
Gray says First Nations along the Line 9 route were not properly consulted about the pipeline reversal project and claim it poses environmental dangers.
In 2012 and 2014, the National Energy Board approved Enbridge applications to return oil flow through the line to its original eastward direction for sections between Sarnia and Westover and Westover and Montreal.
-With files from Jake Jeffrey