Live Feed: World Watches Activists Occupy Suncor’s Tar Sands Facility

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As Washington is abuzz today with the introduction of the Senate’s version of a climate and energy bill, 25 Greenpeace activists have taken climate action into their own hands in Canada.

Slipping past tightened security by floating stealthily downriver, they gained access to Suncor’s massive tar sands facility and shut down two bitumen conveyor belts. The conveyors receive bitumen from the open pit mines along the banks of the Athabasca River and transport it to the upgrader for refining.

The action is being broadcast live on the web. The images being captured on cell phone video show activists scattered in positions across the large industrial construction with the conveyor stopped.

“We’re sending a message to international leaders with Copenhagen less than 70 days away,” said Bruce Cox, the Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada, who spoke to SolveClimate while watching the action from an inflatable boat on the Athabasca River. “This is not just about Suncor, or Shell but about our global addiction to dirty energy.”

Cox said the activists are prepared to spend the night, equipped with food and safety gear. A growing international audience is tuning into the live stream to see what the police will do.

The activists gained access to the two conveyors by using canoes and kayaks to float downriver past security and onto Suncor property. A third team conducted a signature Greenpeace banner drop, hanging a 30 x 7 meter banner from the bridge spanning the river at the site that said “Dying for Climate Leadership.” The activists are an international group — from Canada, Belgium, Germany, France, Australia and Brazil.

“The police said they are going to arrest the activists and charge them with mischief,” Cox said. “Suncor said they are going to sue Greenpeace — but hey, that just goes with the territory.

“They say we’re committing a crime. We believe we are engaging in legitimate, public, non-violent dialogue. If you want to talk about a crime, let’s talk about the 11 million litres of toxic liquid being released into this beautiful river every day. Let’s talk about the 40 million tons of greenhouse gases that the tar sands sends into the atmosphere every year.”

The activist arrived on site at 7 a.m. local time. They have no immediate plans to leave.


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