Bella Bella Oil Pipeline Hearings Cancelled

National Energy Board Panel Cites Personal Safety Concerns, RCMP says gathering was peaceful 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2,2012  Bella Bella – In a surprising development the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel has cancelled today’s hearings in a remote coastal community of Bella Bella after peaceful demonstrations greets panel members at the local airport.
“This is extremely disappointing and unwarranted,” said Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild. “I attended the community gathering and all participants conducted themselves in a peaceful and dignified manner.”
Heiltsuk youth, who have now embarked on a 48-hour hunger strike, greeted the Joint Review Panel at the Bella Bella airport. Students and community members holding no-tanker signs lined the road into town.
North Coast MLA Gary Coombs told News 11:30 in Vancouver, who arrived on the same plane with the panel, stated that he does not understand how the panel could perceive the gathering as a threat. “I am shocked and surprised that the panel might pull out of the community because they felt threatened, I hope calmer heads will prevail and we can continue with the process.”
Constable Lesley Smith, RCMP Media Relations Officer for the North District, stated, “The RCMP was in attendance to uphold the law, maintain the public peace and ensure safety for all parties, including the protesters. The protest was a peaceful demonstration and there were no incidents to report of.”
“It was inspiring to see the courage and leadership of Heiltsuk youth as they gathered to speak up for their future,” said Caitlyn Vernon of Sierra Club BC. “It is an insult to the Heiltsuk Nation and all the neighbouring First Nations who travelled to be there in support, that the panel would feel threatened by the respectful demonstration that I witnessed.”
A representative of the Joint Review Panel told media this morning they felt threatened by a loud bang on the side of the van. Subsequent video analysis (available upon request) shows one individual tapping on the window and holding up a sign for the panel members to see.
In an attempt to reconvene the hearing, the Heiltsuk First Nation held an emergency meeting this morning with the National Energy Board staff, including process manager and legal counsel.
Contact:
Ian McAllister, Conservation Director, Pacific Wild 250-957-2480/ 250 882 7246
Caitlyn Vernon, Coastal Campaigner, Sierra Club BC, 250-896-3500

Images and footage available upon request

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Posted on April 2, 2012, in Oil & Gas and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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