Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Brazen protesters tag Syncrude pond

Brazen protesters tag Syncrude pond
Alexandra Zabjek, The Edmonton Journal
Published: 2:31 am, July 25, 2008

EDMONTON - A new chapter in activism against Alberta's oilsands was
opened Thursday when a group of protesters entered Syncrude's Aurora
mine site north of Fort McMurray and unfurled banners on the edge of a
controversial tailings pond.

"To actually go onto the (oilsands) sites themselves, that's a new thing
and I think we can expect to see more of that in the future as greater
awareness is brought to what's going on up north," said Paul Joosse, a
University of Alberta PhD student who studies environmental social

Eleven Greenpeace activists entered the remote Syncrude site with the
intention of unfurling banners near the tailings pond where 500 water
fowl died earlier this year. The activists also planned to cap a pipe to
stop the flow of effluent into the five-square-kilometre pond, which
holds waste materials that result from the oilsands extraction process.

The group did not cap the pipe, but succeeded in affixing a giant banner
on a sandy berm that surrounds the tailings pond. One activist walked
onto the edge of a gushing pipe while holding a banner emblazoned with a
skull. Photographs of the stunts were posted on the Greenpeace website.

"I think it's of absolute importance to take the struggle of the
tarsands right to the belly of the beast," said Dave Martin, a
Greenpeace activist who was among those at the Syncrude site.

"It's a largely symbolic gesture but we're here to say that the tarsands
are a disaster on a scale we haven't seen before."
RCMP have issued $287 fines for trespassing to each of the 11
protesters. There is currently no evidence of actions meriting criminal
charges, said Const. Ali Fayad of Fort McMurray RCMP.

Syncrude will be reviewing its security operations in light of
Thursday's activities, said company spokesman Mark Kruger.

"Our biggest reaction is to focus on the fact that the protesters did
put themselves at a risk to their safety," said Kruger. "The Syncrude
site is a large, industrial and complex site and for people who are
unfamiliar with the area, there can be a safety risk. So we're thankful
no one got hurt."

The Greenpeace activists said they accessed the site with few problems
and without contacting any security personnel.

Syncrude believes the group broke through a gate to enter the operation.

© The Edmonton Journal 2008

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