More anti-shale gas protesters arrested in New Brunswick
Government official says arrests prompted after SWN equipment was damaged
Anti-shale gas protesters were arrested on Sunday after equipment owned by SWN Resources Canada was damaged, according to a government official.
The reasons for the arrests on Sunday are conflicting, however.
While a government official says the arrests were prompted after protesters damaged equipment, demonstrators say three people were arrested because they were not keeping far enough away from the equipment.
“I clarified with the police officers that it was about 150 feet, which was the length of one and a half telephone poles. We looked and we were being told with their arms out, corralling us, telling us to go, to move,” Rish McGlynn said.
McGlynn said she saw three people arrested at about 4 p.m., but she plans to return to the site to protest as long as the trucks are there.
A SWN official confirmed on Monday that equipment was damaged.
“We can confirm equipment was stolen and damaged. As we have reported the matter to the RCMP for investigation,we will not discuss further,” said Tracey Stephenson in a statement.
No one from the RCMP has been available to comment on the arrests.
Regional chief urges education, caution
Meanwhile, Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Roger Augustine says each First Nations community in New Brunswick has to come to its own conclusion about shale gas exploration.
The assembly does not have a blanket policy when it comes to the controversial hydraulic-fracturing process known as fracking, he said.
“We are, and I think the chiefs of New Brunswick, are studying that, are studying fracking very carefully and they’ll do what’s right. At the end of the day, it’s about putting food on the table right?”
Fracking involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations, enabling them to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise go untapped.
Opponents of the process say it could have a negative effect on local water supplies and many of them have held protests across the province.
Augustine said he’d like to see more education about the process.
People need to be provided with the necessary technical expertise to make informed decisions, he said.
Augustine said he supports people’s right to demonstrate, but he advises caution.
SWN Resources Canada is conducting seismic testing in Kent County to determine if it is economically feasible to set up a gas industry in the region.
A company official said in April it estimates there is a 10 per cent chance of SWN Resources being able to establish shale gas production in New Brunswick.
Anti-shale gas protesters were once again protesting seismic testing along Highway 126 on Sunday. Similar protests in Kent County have been held for about a week.
Last week, three other people were arrested at a similar anti-shale gas rally in Kent County. A truck owned by a contractor for SWN Resources was also seized last week at a protest.
Many protesters are worried the seismic testing will lead to a shale gas industry that could damage the environment.
The New Brunswick government announced a series of legal and regulatory reforms earlier this year intended to give the province some of the strictest oil and natural gas exploration rules in North America.
Premier David Alward has said companies should be able to explore to see if there is enough of a resource available to create a shale gas industry.