B.C. pipeline bombings 3 years old with no charges laid
One Alberta man arrested and released during the investigation
This week marks the grim anniversary of the start of an alarming series of bombings that spread fear and prompted a sometimes heavy-handed police presence in northeastern B.C. for several months — and to date no one has been charged.
Six bombings — all targeting a natural gas pipeline and gas wells operated by the Encana Corporation — would eventually rock the Tomslake area, near the city of Dawson Creek, 750 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.
The first blast occurred Oct. 11, 2008, followed by another five days later on Oct. 16 and a third on Oct. 31. The next bomb blew up on Jan. 4, 2009, and two more explosions would follow, three days apart, the following July.
There have been no injuries, and not all of the explosions ruptured the pipeline or stopped the flow of gas. But the final bomb came closest to causing injury when it blew up just 500 metres away from a group of workers.
July 30, 2009 - EnCana posts $1-million reward.
July 16, 2009 - Letter reportedly from bomber sent to Dawson Creek newspaper.
July 4, 2009 - Natural gas pipeline bombed near Pouce Coupe, B.C.
July 1, 2009 - Wellhead bombed near Pouce Coupe, B.C.
Jan. 4, 2009 - EnCana natural gas facility east of Dawson Creek, B.C. attacked
Oct. 31, 2008 - Metering shed bombed northwest of Tomslake, B.C.
Oct. 16, 2008 - Pipeline bombed off Highway 2 near B.C.-Alberta border.
Oct. 11, 2008 - Blast set off at sour-gas pipeline east of Dawson Creek, B.C.
Encana posted a $1-million reward and, although there has been one high-profile arrest, no charges have even been recommended by police.
Anonymous letters were sent to local news media after the series of bombings ended, slamming the gas industry's rapid expansion and urging Encana to get out of the business.
Police would not say whether they believed the letter came from someone directly involved in setting the explosions, but authorities did say they got DNA from one letter.
Interrogations and one arrest
Police arrested local farmer Wiebo Ludwig in January 2010 and searched his home and property near Hythe, Alberta. Ludwig had been convicted in the 1990s of bombing oil and gas installations. However, he was released after spending the night in custody.
Some residents nearer the Tomslake area also were interviewed by police.
Organic farmer Tim Ewert said he had often been vocal in his opposition to the gas wells, but never violent.
"People were having a lot of unwelcome visits by the police, being hauled off to the police station for many hours of interrogation, totally upsetting their lives," Ewert said of that time.
Ewert said police tactics virtually silenced local people who have legitimate concerns about gas drilling.
"There was a lot of unhappiness about what was going on with the oil and gas industry — the intrusion, the risk," he said. "I know people who were very active in their concerns about the oil and gas industry who have not said a peep for several years."
Ewert said he wishes the millions spent on catching the bomber had instead gone to making gas wells and pipelines safer for for area residents.
The integrated national security team investigating the bombings is still on the case, according to RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau.
"Our investigation is ongoing and we can't comment on anything else at this point," Linteau said.
With files from the CBC's Betsy Trumpener