Greenpeace goes into Belly of the Beast
Posted by mhudema on July 25, 2008
|The Edmonton Journal|
EDMONTON – A new chapter in activism against Alberta’s oilsands was opened Thursday when a group of protesters entered Syncrude’s Aurora mine site north of Fort McMurray and unfurled banners on the edge of a controversial tailings pond.
“To actually go onto the (oilsands) sites themselves, that’s a new thing and I think we can expect to see more of that in the future as greater awareness is brought to what’s going on up north,” said Paul Joosse, a University of Alberta PhD student who studies environmental social movements.
Eleven Greenpeace activists entered the remote Syncrude site with the intention of unfurling banners near the tailings pond where 500 water fowl died earlier this year. The activists also planned to cap a pipe to stop the flow of effluent into the five-square-kilometre pond, which holds waste materials that result from the oilsands extraction process.
The group did not cap the pipe, but succeeded in affixing a giant banner on a sandy berm that surrounds the tailings pond. One activist walked onto the edge of a gushing pipe while holding a banner emblazoned with a skull. Photographs of the stunts were posted on the Greenpeace website.
“I think it’s of absolute importance to take the struggle of the tarsands right to the belly of the beast,” said Dave Martin, a Greenpeace activist who was among those at the Syncrude site.
“It’s a largely symbolic gesture but we’re here to say that the tarsands are a disaster on a scale we haven’t seen before.”
RCMP have issued $287 fines for trespassing to each of the 11 protesters. There is currently no evidence of actions meriting criminal charges, said Const. Ali Fayad of Fort McMurray RCMP.
Syncrude will be reviewing its security operations in light of Thursday’s activities, said company spokesman Mark Kruger.
“Our biggest reaction is to focus on the fact that the protesters did put themselves at a risk to their safety,” said Kruger. “The Syncrude site is a large, industrial and complex site and for people who are unfamiliar with the area, there can be a safety risk. So we’re thankful no one got hurt.”
The Greenpeace activists said they accessed the site with few problems and without contacting any security personnel.
Syncrude believes the group broke through a gate to enter the operation.