Update: A story just released by Reuters has confirmed that the protesters “partially” shut-down Line 7, there was no impact on deliveries. Once again, this site beat the mainstream media to the story by many hours.
According to a posting on Reddit’s Anarchist News page this morning, criminalized activists took the dangerously stupid path of shutting down another pipeline last night. This time, they’ve switched from the recently reversed Line 9 to Line 7, a regional pipeline that runs between Sarnia and Flamborough Ontario. CBC’s Adam Carter reported last year that the pipeline recently increased capacity from 147,000 to 180,000 barrels per day, but his claims must always be viewed with a grain of salt.
The posting claimed that the so-called activists “stole into the dark near so-called cambridge [sic] and used a manual pipeline valve to restrict the flow.” The protesters claimed they sabotaged the pipeline “to show our ever lasting love and support to the brave folks who’ve taken similar actions” who face “grossly inflated charges.” Bravely speaking behind the shield of an anonymous account, they claimed with much dramaticism that they’ll “not be cowed” and will “fight for the land and water; and we fight for our lives.”
It doesn’t take much engineering knowledge to realize that an unscheduled shutdown of a pipeline adds to the statistical possibility that something might go wrong. Activists claim that both Line 9 and Line 7 pipelines are “old” and “brittle” and have a high possibility of rupturing in the near future. Yet at the same time, they’re equally claiming that their acts of sabotage are perfectly safe- they’re either lying, terminally stupid, or both.
American anarchist and cop-magnet Sakura Saunders gave us a perfect example on her Facebook page this morning, writing “regarding the word sabotage…it seems like they just manually shut off the valve.” The first thing to consider here is that Saunders is hardly a reliable source- she made a similarly stupid comment at the trial of G20 rioter George Horton saying “all he really did was kick the door of a police car.”
More importantly, the act of interfering with a pipeline is the very definition of sabotage- and considering the risk to life & the environment, it’s not unreasonable to call it eco-terrorism. Merriam-Webster defines sabotage as “destruction of property (as tools or materials) or the hindering of manufacturing,” Cambridge defines it as “to intentionally prevent the success of a plan or action”.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act defines such sabotage as the first item in a list of “threats to the security of Canada”:
“espionage or sabotage that is against Canada or is detrimental to the interests of Canada or activities directed toward or in support of such espionage or sabotage”
It’s quite likely that risky unscheduled shutdowns of pipelines fit into this definition, both because of their riskiness and potential impact on Canada’s oil industry at a time when it’s facing serious economic challenges. The protesters got it all wrong claiming that the charges against last month’s saboteurs were “grossly inflated”- the reality is that they obviously weren’t strong enough to scare others away.
It will be interesting to see how Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale handles this situation, he’s between a rock and a hard place. Line 9 isn’t carrying product from the oil sands, but it’s likely to be carrying oil from his home province of Saskatchewan. Ignoring the problem puts Eastern Canadians at risk of an environmnetal disaster, and might hurt the paycheques and bottom-line of people and companies in his home province. #justsayin