Activists deface coal carrier
Greenpeace protests coal-fired power generation
Monte Sonnenberg SIMCOE REFORMER - August 31, 2007
NANTICOKE - Haldimand OPP arrested three activists with the environmental group Greenpeace yesterday after they boarded a coal carrier in Long Point Bay and chained themselves to it.
Greenpeace signalled this week that it was planning something when it arrived in Lake Erie with its icebreaker Arctic Sunrise. Thirty activists bedded down in Port Dover Wednesday before heading out yesterday to confront the Algomarine.
The freighter was bringing 30,000 tonnes of coal to the Nanticoke Generating Station, which is the largest coal-fired generating station in North America. About 10 miles from shore, Greenpeace activists in motorized pontoon boats approached the freighter. By radio, crew aboard the Arctic Sunrise notified the Algomarine that it was the subject of an environmental protest.
Activists rappelled up the side of the Algomarine and, using "environmentally friendly" paint, scrawled "No coal - no nuclear - clean energy - no nukes" on the hull. Three of the activists came up on deck and chained themselves to the superstructure.
By cellphone from the Arctic Sunrise, spokesperson Joslyn Higginson said the stunt was meant to draw attention to Ontarios continued dependence on energy sources that Greenpeace believes are harmful to the environment.
Greenpeace acted after the Ontario Power Authority confirmed this week that it intends to rely on coal and nuclear for the provinces power needs far into the future. Greenpeace and other environmental groups want greater emphasis on renewable energy and clean sources such as solar and wind power.
Four years ago, the McGuinty government pledged to close all coal-fired generating stations in Ontario by 2007. That has since been moved back to 2014. Yesterday, Higginson said "this is just another broken promise waiting to happen."
"Our objective is to stand in the way of environmental destruction," she said. "In Ontario, we are entering an election campaign that is becoming very personal between the leaders. Were hoping to refocus the campaign on clean energy options. Its about taking a stand. We call this non-violent direct action."
The marine unit of the Niagara Regional Police and OPP marine units from Norfolk and Haldimand set up a command post at Hoovers Marina west of the generating station yesterday morning. An OPP boat ferried officers to the Algomarine. There, they cut the protesters loose and took them into custody.
It remains to be seen whether this is the end of it. Late yesterday afternoon, the Algomarine was idling in Long Point Bay with the Arctic Sunrise nearby. Higginson said the freighter could be boarded again if it tries to deliver its cargo.
"Its an option," she said.
John Earl, spokesperson for Ontario Power Generation, said the utility respects the right of everyone to free expression. However, OPG draws the line at illegal acts and manoeuvres that put lives at risk.
"We do not condone unlawful, wilful acts," Earl said. "We are concerned for the safety of the ship. It was a wilful, illegal act by Greenpeace."
Earl noted that security guards at the generating station remain on high alert.
"We are very concerned for the safety of our people, the surrounding community and the reliability of the Ontario energy supply," he said.
Earl added that OPG has ample supplies of coal on site to ride out the Greenpeace delay.
Arrested and charged with mischief under $5,000 yesterday were Greenpeace members Dominique du Sablon, 20, of Toronto, Charles Latimer, 25, of Vancouver, and Emily Elizabeth Storey, 24, of Toronto.