Activists arrested after 5 Canada-US pipelines reportedly shut down

Protesters against the Keystone Oil pipeline hold up signs before a U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

Climate-change activists were arrested on Tuesday after they shut down five pipelines carrying crude from Canadian oils sands into the U.S. market, the latest move by environmental groups to disrupt movement of oil across North America, an activist group said.

Climate Direct Action said in a press release it had shut down the pipelines to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been protesting the construction of a pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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Click to play video: 'Edmontonian rally against North Dakota pipeline' Edmontonian rally against North Dakota pipeline
Edmontonian rally against North Dakota pipeline – Sep 11, 2016

“We are acting in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux who oppose the North Dakota pipeline,” Sopariwala said. “We are acting in response to this catastrophe we are facing.”

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Spectra Energy, one of four companies said to be affected, said trespassers had tampered with a valve on its Express Pipeline in Montana and it had shut the line down as a precaution.

The other pipelines claimed to have been shut in are Enbridge’s Lines 4 and 67, TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline. Enbridge said it shut pipelines at a valve site in Leonard, Minnesota, after trespassers cut chains and attempted to turn off vales. The other companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

READ MORE: North Dakota pipeline construction partially stopped by US government

Afrin Sopariwala, spokeswoman for the activist group, told Reuters protesters shut down the pipelines between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. PT by manually shutting off valves. In some places they had to cut chains to reach the valves.

All the protesters and their support crews have been arrested, Sopariwala said, with police turning up within 20 to 90 minutes after the valves were turned.

She said the group had spent several months researching how to safely shut down the pipelines.

According to the Duluth News-Tribune, an Enbridge spokeswoman confirmed a company valve station near Clearbrook, Minn., had been tampered with Tuesday morning, although she was unclear if the line had been shut or if there was any damage.

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(Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Catherine Ngai in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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