RCMP in northern B.C. confirmed Monday officers are investigating an alleged attack on a natural gas pipeline work camp as a criminal act and not a breach of an injunction.
An injunction is in place in the area that allows gas workers access to the site and has been enforced previously with arrests.
Police have yet to make any arrests following what they are calling the “violent confrontation” between 20 camouflage-clad, unknown individuals and employees of Coastal GasLink (GGL) that took place early Thursday morning on the Marten Forest Service Road.
Investigators spent much of the long weekend at the site and reviewing the surveillance footage from the night of the incident.
They told Global News they have not yet decided if they are going to release any of that footage to the public.
They are also not linking the incident to prior protests in the area.
First-hand look at the damage inside Coastal GasLink’s Morice River Forrest Service Road drilling site 60 kms SW of Houston B.C.
The company is constructing a 670 km natural gas pipeline running through the area — and says its facility and 9 workers were attacked. pic.twitter.com/qCKovAKixQ
— Emad Agahi (@emadagahi) February 19, 2022
The group, who police claim carried axes and torches, allegedly used grinders to cut the locks off a gate, then proceeded to cause an estimated $6 million in damage to equipment and structures at the pipeline worksite.
The area near Houston, B.C., has been a flashpoint for several years between CGL and Wet’suwet’en First Nations people opposed to the development that they say does not have their consent, and therefore the right to proceed under Indigenous law.
While the company claims the support of 20 elected Indigenous groups along the 670-kilometre route from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat, it has been vocally opposed by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
“We simply do not have enough information to make any comments,” Hereditary Chief Na’moks, also known as John Risdale, told Global News on Saturday.
-with files from Simon Little