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Update: No arrests made months after pipeline crew attacked

More than three months after 20 armed protestors destroyed a Coastal GasLink site in a coordinated attack, RCMP have made no arrests

Despite an investigative team of 40 RCMP officers, eyewitnesses and video footage of the crime – and an apparent shortlist of potential suspects – no arrests have been made more than five months after an armed attack on a Coastal GasLink (CGL) crew near Houston, B.C.

“The investigation into the February 17 incident remains ongoing, and there is nothing further to release on it at this time,” said Houston RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson in a May 27 email to Western Investor.

No pipeline has been laid in the area since, the only one of eight sections of the natural gas pipeline with no pipe in the ground. Currently, more than 62 per cent of the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink project is complete.

Houston RCMP have footage showing the individuals responsible for the attack are asking for the public’s help to identify the suspects.

“Video footage obtained by investigators show several people, some armed with axes, storm the property [and] attack a company vehicle while an employee was inside the truck,” a police statement said.

“The unknown individuals, who were similarly dressed, swung axes at the vehicle, spray painted the window and ignited what is suspected to be a flare gun. Thankfully, the CGL employees were not physically harmed.”

The perpetrators also commandeered large construction machines and used them to destroy buildings and other work equipment.

After the post-midnight attack, and with RCMP on site, the score of attackers apparently vanished into the northern night. The coordinated attack took place 43 kilometres down a single-access dirt road and in near-freezing weather conditions.

The RCMP claim that responding officers were stopped by road blockades and had items hurled and flare guns fired at them when they attempted to remove barricades that included felled trees and burning materials. One officer was injured.

Coastal GasLink reported that 20 masked individuals wearing camouflage surrounded workers at the site near the Marten Forest Service Road, swinging axes at vehicles.

According to CGL, workers fled the site after flare guns were fired at them. The company said the individuals used grinders to cut locks to access the construction site, vandalizing heavy equipment and cutting hydraulic and fuel lines, causing millions of dollars in damage.

The site has been the focus on ongoing protests by members and supporters of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, who are opposed to the pipeline and had presented an ‘eviction order’ to CGL in November 2021.

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have issued statements expressing their concern for everyone’s safety, and denying any prior knowledge of the attack.

Meanwhile, 16 First Nations along the Coastal GasLink route have formed an agreement to buy a 10 per cent stake in the $6.6 billion pipeline once it is complete.

The only section with no pipeline installed is the 78-kilometre Section 7 near Houston and Morice Lake, where the February attack took place. CGL has hired subcontractors representing the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and two other First Nations to complete Section 7.