Shale gas protesters return to Route 11 as testing is set to resume
Roughly 20 kilometres of roadway is covered in geophones – electronic devices connected to cables used in the testing process – but thumper trucks were nowhere to be seen on Wednesday.
While a highly-anticipated confrontation between police and protesters didn’t materialize, there were some tense moments Wednesday morning when protesters confronted a security contractor vehicle. Police quickly diffused the situation.
Protesters also spoke with RCMP about concerns over who owned a piece of land SWN Resources is using as storage.
The protesters believe it is Crown land while police say it is privately-owned land and that the owner had permitted SWN Resources to be there.
Property owner Alfred St. Pierre said he is concerned about the coming days, based on the violence that exploded in Rexton in October.
“The RCMP went in there and hurt a lot of people and it is not done yet,” said St. Pierre. “I think there is going to be a lot more people getting hurt.”
About 20 protesters were stationed at the site Wednesday morning. That number increased to about 50 by noon.
Things are now calm at the site and traffic is flowing freely along Route 11. However, police said late Wednesday afternoon that some of the equipment along the roadway had been damaged and an investigation is underway.
A few police vehicles are stationed at the protest site and more are parked along Route 11 as far back as just north of Rexton.
RCMP said their presence is a precaution based on the violent clash between police and shale gas protesters in Rexton last month.
Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi told CTV News he was tipped off by a lawyer representing SWN Resources that testing was to resume this week.
He has vowed to remain at the site for as long as SWN Resources plans to conduct seismic testing in the area.
“They wanted to deal with us, if we don’t go protest, then they would drop the charges, but we said no,” said Levi.
Protesters said they won’t back down because they believe the risks of fracking are just too high.
“We can’t drink the water. If we don’t protect it, that will be it for us,” said Levi.
“To protect our elders, kids and our land, your guys’ kids, our kids,” said protester Judd Poulette.
The Alward government continues to maintain that fracking can be done safely and that all residents will benefit.
With files from CTV Atlantic's David Bell