Shale gas protesters partially reopen Route 134
Protest continues as blockade of SWN Resources Canada's seismic vehicles remains in place
Shale gas protesters near Rexton have partially dismantled their barricades on Route 134 after 11 days, but continue to bar access to the area where SWN Resources Canada has its seismic exploration vehicles parked.
The trees blocking the provincial road were removed Friday with the assistance of equipment from the Department of Transportation.
However, the protesters intend to remain on the side of the road and would like to see pylons put in place to reduce traffic through the area to one lane and cause vehicles to slow down.
The protesters said the change in approach was prompted by an incident Wednesday when a protester was burned in a campfire and the ambulance had difficulty accessing the area.
The barricades were put in place on Sept. 30 by dozens of native and non-native protesters upset by shale gas exploration in the area by SWN Resources Canada. The protesters also blocked entry to the staging and storage area where SWN's exploration equipment is located off Route 134.
On Oct. 2, SWN Resources applied for a court injunction against the protesters in order to gain access to its equipment and continue exploration activities. The injunction was granted on Oct. 3, but it was defied by the protesters as they remained in place. That standoff led to negotiations to end the impasse involving Premier David Alward, provincial officials, Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock, and representatives of the coalition of protesters.
The Oct. 3 injunction was set to expire on Saturday. With that possibility looming, SWN Resources went to the Court of Queen's Bench in Moncton on Friday seeking an extension to the injunction. The extension was granted until Oct. 21, with provision made for an Oct. 18 court hearing to hear an application for a further extension, if necessary.
At Friday's court hearing, the court was told SWN Resources is losing $60,000 every day its seismic exploration trucks remain blockaded in the compound off Route 134.