Bombings of Canadian pipelines spark ecoterrorism fears

Two explosions in one week cause no injuries, and only minor damage to pipes carrying dangerous hydrogen sulphide gas.

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A second gas pipeline bombing within a week in British Columbia, Canada, has raised worries of ecoterrorism in the region, which suffered a similar series of attacks in the late 1990s.

The Globe and Mail reports that the latest bombing took place near a transfer station owned by energy company EnCana outside Tomslake in northeastern British Colombia, in the same area as another blast that occurred last weekend. Several Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) units, including the antiterrorism unit, are investigating the explosion, which caused only minor damage.

The National Post reports that police believe the explosions may be related to a letter sent last week to the Dawson Creek Daily News, which demanded "EnCana and all other oil and gas interests" leave Tomslake. "We will no longer negotiate with terrorists which you are as you keep endangering our families with crazy expansion of deadly gas wells in our home lands," the letter said.

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The Province reports that at least one expert is calling the explosions acts of terrorism, though police are hesitant to describe them that way, at least for the moment.

John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, a Canadian thinktank that studies political instability and organized violence issues, told The Vancouver Sun that attacks like these have "happened before and will happen again. It's almost like the price of doing business.... The attacks aren't that dangerous, yet. Pipelines break down for other reasons as well. The oil and gas industry is [accustomed] to 'ecotage' and sabotage of various kinds."

Although the leak was quickly sealed and didn't cause any injuries, sour gas, as natural gas containing sulphur hydroxide is known, is very dangerous to humans, writes the Edmonton Journal.

The National Post notes that the explosions this week are not the first to strike Canada's energy industry. In the 1990s, a series of attacks were made in Alberta, Canada, involving similar threatening letters and bombings. Rancher Wiebo Ludwig was convicted for those attacks and jailed, although he has since been released.

Maclean's magazine reported in 1999 that Mr. Ludwig blamed sour gas leaks from pipelines near his home for a variety of ailments his family experienced, including three miscarriages and a stillborn child.

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