SWN seeks permanent injunction against shale protesters
Company says equipment being vandalized, wants court to order 250-metre 'safety zone'
SWN Resources Canada wants a court to order a permanent stop to protesters blocking its shale gas exploration work, and is urging a judge direct the RCMP to immediately enforce any injunction granted by the court.
The company has also launched a lawsuit, filed in the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday, against some of the protesters, accusing them of illegally interfering with SWN’s work.
The company is heading back to court on Friday, the latest legal salvo in a case that has pitted protesters against the energy company that is doing seismic testing along Highway 11.
Earlier this week a judge refused to grant the Elsipogtog First Nation an injunction that would have stopped SWN Resources from doing its work.
The band had warned of outside “radical elements” igniting protests similar to the clash last month between police and demonstrators in Rexton, N.B.
Now it’s SWN’s turn. In the latest court documents, the company alleges much of its equipment has been vandalized during the past two weeks and it wants the court to do a better job of protecting its activities.
The application for an injunction, which has the provincial government's support, is scheduled to be heard on Friday morning.
The lawsuit and the injunction specifically name five protesters: Louis Jerome, Maxime Daigle, Daniel Thomas Bernard (T’uma), Judd Levi Poulette, and Douglas Martin, along with “unknown individuals.”
The company says three of them are from out of province. It accuses the group of stopping SWN trucks, threatening and harassing staff, and damaging equipment and vehicles.
The lawsuit is seeking damages, but a statement of claim does not say how much.
As for the injunction, the company says each day it can’t do seismic testing costs it $54,000.
More than 1,000 of the company's recording devices have been damaged in recent weeks, according to an affidavit filed by one of the managers, Christopher Cainsford-Betty.
Some of the box devices, which are placed every couple of metres along the side of the highway to test for gas deposits, have been crushed, or the wires linking them have been cut, said Cainsford-Betty.
Up to 400 of the boxes have been thrown into bushes, trees, or creeks, he said.
The company only has about 20 devices still in working condition, said Cainsford-Betty. The remainder must be recovered, inspected and repaired, he said.
SWN is seeking a permanent injunction against the five protesters it has managed to identify, as well as several others who are allegedly wearing camouflage and hiding their faces.
It also wants the court to ban protesters from a 250-metre "safety zone" in front of and behind its trucks, as well as 20 metres back from the side of the highway.