Updated: Wed, 26 Jun 2013 10:42:21 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Hamilton Enbridge site protesters arrested, removed

Hamilton Enbridge site protesters arrested, removed

Hamilton police have removed and arrested protesters occupying the Enbridge pump station in rural Hamilton.

Police spokeswoman Debbie McGreal-Dinning said police were "on site with Enbridge staff" assisting in the removal of protesters.

McGreal-Dinning said that there were about 16 protesters remaining at the Enbridge pump station and that some of the protesters had been allowed to leave. Estimates of the number arrested range between 10 and 20.

Candace Gayle, one of the protesters who was allowed to leave the site, said that police moved in at about 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. She said that she estimated about 20 people had been arrested.

"They're taking people from the back (area of the site). People are concerned they (Hamilton police) will be rough," Gayle said. She added that she didn't think that anyone had been hurt.

"They had told the police liaisons they would give people a chance to leave," Gayle said. "They didn't. They started arresting people who wanted to leave. That was surprising because of what we had been told by police."

McGreal-Dinning said that protesters on site were allowed to leave Tuesday after the injunction calling for their removal had been received.

"It was all really fast"

Freelance journalist Tim Groves was embedded with the group overnight and woke up to commotion just before 7 a.m.

"It was all really fast, then I just started packing up my bags and almost immediately the police were there, and the first thing I saw was them handcuffing people."

He said police gave some the option to leave and he thought a dozen people had been arrested.

"About 20 minutes after the police cars got here, a whole bunch of machinery came, starting with a back hoe and then trucks, many of them with Enbridge logos on them."

Westover resident Joan Gerritsen welcomed the police intervention, and what she hoped is the end of the protest.

"We're glad that they're taking the protesters away," she said. "It's been rather busy around here. We're used to having a nice quiet little hamlet with a lot less traffic. We hope to have our peace and quiet back again and have Enbridge continue their work."

Protesters blockade

Four protesters formed a blockade at the entry gate to the station Tuesday. Enbridge obtained a court injunction around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday morning for the protesters to leave. But four remained and formed a blockade, said David Prychitka of Hamilton, a spokesman for the protesters.

“Three of them have encased themselves in a makeshift structure that is heavily chained to the facility fence,” Prychitka said during a noon hour press conference at the site on Tuesday. “These individuals will stay in place as long as they can with the intention of stopping further construction on the Line 9 pipeline.”

Prychitka read a statement from Trish Mills, one of the protesters in the barricade.

“This is not Enbridge's land to order us off of. It is stolen,” said Mills's statement, referencing the camp's First Nations partners. “Even if it wasn't, this company and this industry exploit and destroy land. It is our responsibility to stop this exploitation.”

Link to the oil sands

The pipeline from Sarnia to Montreal is divided into two sections — Line 9A and Line 9B. The National Energy Board has already approved the flow reversal of Line 9A, which runs from Sarnia to Westover. It will hold public hearings on the second leg of the project this fall.

Line 9 crosses several major rivers that drain into Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River as well as Spencer Creek, Hamilton's largest watershed. Opponents say the pipeline will carry diluted bitumen from Alberta's oil sands, which is heavier and puts the line at greater risk of a rupture.

Wednesday is the fifth day of the occupation. Enbridge respects their right to peacefully protest, said Graham White, a spokesman for the company.

“We know we're targets,” White said at the Westover station across the street. “We're identified strategic targets for the energy industry in general. We certainly recognize the right of groups to express their views in a legal peaceful manner.”

But occupying the station, he said, is not legal.

With the pipeline, Enbridge provides "an essential service that people rely on every day for the most basic needs of their lives," he said.

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