CGL: “The tunnelling process under the Morice River is anticipated to last until the end of the year”

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo of the drill pad site near Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) by Gidimt’en Checkpoint.

On September 21, The Tyee reported:

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline say they fear the company is about to begin drilling under the Morice River, known to Wet’suwet’en as Wedzin Kwa.

“We’ve been trying to protect the river for so many years,” Molly Wickham, a Gidimt’en Clan member whose Wet’suwet’en name is Sleydo’, told The Tyee this week. “It’s just really challenging to wrap your head around it and then to see the images of the drill and what’s going on there.”

According to Wickham, it appears that drilling equipment has been hauled into a worksite about 65 kilometres down the Morice Forest Service Road, southwest of Houston, B.C.

It’s there that TC Energy, the company building the 670-kilometre pipeline through northern B.C., intends to tunnel under the river.

Wickham said that on Sunday overhead photos of the site showed “something actually in the shaft” and all other equipment apparently in place for the work to get underway.

[TC Energy] did not respond to specific questions about when drilling would begin or if local Indigenous groups would receive prior notification.

“The tunnelling process under the Morice River is anticipated to last until the end of the year,” the company said. “The safety and security of our people, Indigenous and local communities, the public and the protection of the environment remain our primary focuses.”

Wickham said she and other pipeline opponents are frequently pulled over and ticketed by RCMP officers who patrol the Morice road. Some are arrested and charged with mischief, she added.

During one recent arrest, a vehicle was searched and a drone used to monitor pipeline activity was confiscated, she said. RCMP did not respond to The Tyee’s questions about the incident.

“It’s been a challenge to actually be able to monitor what is happening,” Wickham said. “They’ve provided us no information. They provided us less information about the drilling process than what they have on their website.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for B.C.’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said in an email to The Tyee that the project is not currently out of compliance with regard to its work at the drill site.

“The Environmental Assessment Office requires Coastal Gaslink to provide construction schedules to affected Indigenous nations,” the spokesperson said. “The EAO Compliance & Enforcement has assessed CGL’s process surrounding the Morice River portion of the project and has found them in compliance.”

To read the full article by Amanda Follett Hosgood, please go to A Pipeline, a River and an Indigenous Nation.

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