Greenpeace activists rappel from Canadian bridge to protest oil pipeline

Greenpeace are protesting Kinder Morgan’s $5.5 billion expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. (AFP pic)

MONTREAL: Canadian police tried in vain Wednesday to remove Greenpeace activists who have rappelled from a bridge to protest an oil pipeline project, blocking marine traffic in the port of Vancouver.

Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police intervened on and below the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge over Vancouver bay, trying to persuade 12 Greenpeace activists hanging from cables and holding large streamers since Tuesday morning to pack up and go home.

As of late Wednesday, however, the activists remained in place as part of their protest against the planned Can$7.4 billion (US$5.5 billion) Trans Mountain expansion pipeline.

The protest prevented at least three oil tankers from passing under the bridge, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Greenpeace is vehemently opposed to a project that would triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from the tar sands fields of Alberta province west to the Pacific port of Vancouver.

“We came here to say no to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, the seven-fold increase in tar sands tanker traffic it would bring to these waters, and the devastating expansion of the tar sands it would cause,” Greenpeace said on its Facebook page, which is providing live coverage of the bridge protest.

Canada is one of the world’s largest oil producers thanks to the Alberta tar sands, which produce some of the “dirtiest” crudes in the world.

Unlike traditional crude oil which gushes from a well, tar sand oil must be dug up and essentially melted with steaming hot water before it can be refined.

Also opposing the project, on grounds of potential environmental risk, are the British Columbia provincial government, indigenous communities and advocacy groups.

The expansion is being carried out by the US firm Kinder Morgan