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Hamilton police seek pipeline opponents who’ve damaged Line 10

Hamilton police are looking for leads after what they say are “incidents of mischief and trespassing” around an Enbridge pipeline in Ancaster. But an unnamed group of dissenters already seems to have taken credit.

Police put out a call for help on Thursday to find who twice punctured the pipeline. They want the public to help “identify the persons responsible” and “prevent further damage from being done.”

The pipeline in question is Line 10, which has attracted its share of opposition.

Enbridge construction crews are in the midst of decommissioning a 12-inch pipeline from Westover to the Nanticoke Junction Facility in Glanbrook and replacing it with a 20-inch one. But the plan has attracted opposition, particularly since the news that it would involve felling thousands of trees.

“Just the tree area that is being cleared is the size of Gage Park,” said Don McLean. He coordinates the Hamilton 350 environmental group, which is not involved in the tampering. “The area that is being used for either the right of way or the work space is 10 times that.”

Enbridge Line 10 map

This map shows the Enbridge Line 10 pipeline. The corporation plans to put in a new, larger pipeline as part of its routine upgrades. (Enbridge)

In an email Thursday, an anonymous person appeared to take credit for tampering with the pipeline.

“We found ourselves going for long moonlit strolls through the trenches of the freshly dug Line 10 right of way,” said the email, which described pipelines as indefensible.

“Whenever we felt the urge, we drilled various sized holes into pipeline segments while spilling corrosives inside others.”

How-to guide includes cutting oil

The email also described how to tamper with the pipeline.

“You’ll need 1. A decent cordless drill, 2. A good smaller gauge cobalt and titanium drill bit – preferably with a pilot point, and 3. Cutting oil. (Oh, the irony!)” the email reads.

“With a righteous sense of adventure, prove your steal ninja skills by getting into the right of way. Once you’re in there, you’re pretty invisible from the road.”

In the email, the group described pipelines as war and an affront to Indigenous people. Such projects, it says, are “perfect opportunities for effective direct action that harms nothing but an oil company’s bottom line.”

Enbridge, meanwhile, says it will “support the prosecution of anyone involved.”

Unrelated rally on Friday

“Pipelines are no different than power lines or railway lines,” it said, “and tampering with energy infrastructure puts people and the environment at risk.”

Meanwhile, the Hamilton 350 committee, along with Environment Hamilton and the local Council of Canadians chapter, is holding a rally Friday against the pipeline. That will happen at the corner of Homestead and Upper James in Mount Hope on at 4 p.m.

The goal, McLean said, is to convince the National Energy Board to review its decision to allow the project.

“We want to draw attention to it and encourage more people to oppose it.”

In an email statement to CBC News this month, Enbridge said environmental protection is a top priority.

‘A very serious global crisis’

The company will restore the pipeline right-of-way to look as close to its pre-construction condition as possible, spokesperson Jesse Semko said. That includes mulching, seeding, and monitoring until the trees and plants grow back.

Enbridge is also donating the removed trees and wood on site of the construction to the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation reserve, Semko said, and will plant 2,000 seedlings on the reserve in 2018.

McLean said seedlings aren’t the same as fully grown trees, particularly when it comes to climate change.

“We are, clearly in our view, in a very serious global crisis.”

McLean has been involved in environmentalism for years, and said this is the first time he’s heard of someone putting holes in a pipeline.

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