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Shot-hole driller goes up in flames, two security trucks seized - another bad day for SWN in the woods of New Brunswick

SWN leaves equipment on private property - and a driller gets roasted

by Miles Howe

Shot-hole driller ablaze down the Bass River road. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Shot-hole driller ablaze down the Bass River road. [Photo: Miles Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Last night, as is by now being widely reported, two SWN shot-hole drillers – large, tank-treaded machines that bore holes into the earth to ready areas for controlled detonations – were spotted on private land adjacent to the Bass River church in New Brunswick. Controlled detonations provide seismic information in areas where seismic trucks, or 'thumpers', cannot easily access. 

The reconnaissance party of three individuals that spotted the shot-hole drillers were followed down the approximately 3.5 kilometre dirt road by two SWN-contracted security trucks. When it became clear that SWN had parked their equipment on private land, and had not requested permission from the land owner to do so, a call went out across social media to rally to the site, with the possibility of seizing the drillers.

Contact was made between individuals identifying themselves as UN independent observers and the gathering number of people congregating at the drillers. About an hour later, the security trucks, and their personnel, were escorted off the private property. The trucks were seized and driven to the RCMP station at Elsipogtog.

Down at the shot-hole drillers, at about 3am, the self-identified UN observers were again contacted by phone by the gathered crowd of about 25 people. A request for advice as to the legal situation of potentially seizing the equipment was made.

‘UN observer’ Wendell Nicholas, from Tobique First Nation, advised the party that the owner of the property had contacted SWN Resources Canada, and had made a request for them to remove their illegally stationed equipment in the morning. Nicholas thusly advised against seizing the equipment. Fearing RCMP reprisal, the crowd scattered.

This morning, at about 7am, I returned to the site in the hopes of visiting the shot-hole drillers and photographing them. As I approached the site, I saw a plume of grey smoke. I began to run towards the smoke, and was confronted with the scene captured in the accompanying photograph. I promptly called 911 and then ran back to the Bass River church, where I warned people around the environs of the church of the possibility of detonators or explosives being inside the drillers.

As of press time, a crowd continues to congregate at the entrance to the Bass River church where RCMP continue to contemplate how to remove the drillers.

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