CBC News, Photo Credit – Jennifer Choi/CBC
SWN Resources Canada is suing 13 anti-shale gas protesters for damages it claims it has suffered as a result of protests in New Brunswick, court documents obtained by CBC News show.
The company has lost $650,000 since the protests began, according to an affidavit by Christopher Cainsford-Betty, a staff operations geophysicist for Southwestern Energy Company, the parent company of SWN.
A drill rig worth $380,000 was destroyed by fire, and geophones and trucks were vandalized, the affidavit filed by Cainsford-Betty with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Moncton in October states.
In addition, the exploration work for underground deposits of shale gas was supposed to be finished last year, but SWN is going to have to come back in 2014 to finish collecting its data, he says.
Every hour the machines and crews aren’t working costs a minimum of $5,000, according to the eight-page affidavit.
The company has already spent at least $20 million in New Brunswick to date, including funds to hire “a large and expensive security team” to protect its personnel and equipment, it states.
SWN has also collected more than 200 pages of postings on Facebook sites used by protesters, according to the court documents.
The postings included information on setting up blockades as well as threats of grenades, smashing equipment, and taking hostages.
Some workers who were protecting SWN’s equipment during a protest near Rexton in October also allege they were threatened by protesters
They say they were told things like, “This is the last face you will see,” or “Your family will hate you because you won’t come home.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
“Allowing the protest to continue in the same manner will put the entirety of the geophysical exploration program in danger of cancellation,” says Cainsford-Betty.
“The exploration of the geophysical environment has a direct benefit to the public,” he says.
“Most importantly, it is my opinion that the protest is jeopardizing the health and safety of the general public, the applicant’s personnel and the protesters and that an immediate resolution to this situation is required.”
The respondents include: Loraine Clair, Jim Pictou, Seven Bernard, Jason Okay, Greg Cook, Wilhelmina (‘Willi’) Noland, Melanie Elward, Jean-Sebastien Theriault, Ann Pohl, Rachel Daigle, Suzanne Patles, John Doe and Jane Doe.