Work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline is ramping up, as the project enters a busy fall work season, but members within the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation are also ramping up efforts to halt the project.
TC Energy (TSX:TRP), responsible for building the $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline that will feed the LNG Canada plant in Kitimat, has already warned that the project’s costs are likely to go up “significantly,” thanks to time lost from the pandemic and reductions in its workforce.
In a recent fall construction update, Coastal GasLink said it is entering a fall ramp-up that will see 4,758 workers employed on the project in B.C.
But an activist group within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation – which is divided on the project, with severeal hereditary chiefs opposed to it and elected chiefs in favour – have recently ramped up efforts to halt the project.
According to a press release issued by representatives of the Gidimt’en clan, a blockade has been set up to try to stop work in an area they say is destroying an archaeological site. As of Sunday, there had been one arrest, the group says in its release.
“Days ago, CGL destroyed our ancient village site, Ts’elkay Kwe,” the press release states.
“Tensions have continued to rise on the Yintah as CGL pushes a reckless and destructive construction schedule with the support of private security and the RCMP.”
In a statement provided to BIV News, CGL said “a small group of individuals accessed a lawfully and fully permitted Coastal Gaslink construction site within the vicinity of the Morice River and erected a blockade.
“Coastal GasLink crews are currently prevented from accessing the work area, which includes several pieces of heavy equipment that were staged there for clearing and site preparation activities.”
In a video released by the Yintah Access Group, Molly Wickham (Sleydo') – a member of the Gidimt’en clan – is seen confronting a work crew and an archeologist employed by the company demanding to be allowed to observe the work going on and examine any artifacts that were unearthed during excavation.
The B.C. and federal government have tried to defuse anti-pipeline protests through a reconciliation agreement with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en that would address rights and title, but that has not stopped some clan members from continuing efforts to halt the project.
“As Coastal GasLink continues to trespass, we will do everything in our power to protect our waters and to uphold our laws,” the Yintah Access Group says in a press release.
“This site is located with the Coastal GasLink permitted corridor and within the area where an enforceable injunction remains in place that prohibits unlawful obstruction or blockading of Coastal GasLink permitted and authorized activities,” CGL said in its statement.
The company added that, despite the recent interruption of work, “there is no material impact to the project schedule at this time and activities continue to progress across the 670-km project route according as planned.”