CARLTON, Minn. (AP) — Authorities were investigating Friday after a protester allegedly threw a suspicious package at a construction site for the Enbridge Energy Line 3 replacement pipeline, according to Enbridge and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office.
A bomb squad was called to the area that was evacuated, though there were no immediate details. Enbridge said the company has shut down its pipelines in the area out of an abundance of caution.
There were no immediate arrests in connection with the package, which authorities say was thrown by protesters shortly after 12:30 p.m. as they were dispersing from the area. Enbridge Energy said workers saw a protester throw a suspicious device onto the construction site, then rush to drive away.
Enbridge said its workers were evacuated. The sheriff’s office said Perch Lake Town Hall was being used as a shelter. The incident is ongoing.
It was not immediately clear how many protesters were in the area, or how many people were evacuated.
“Putting the lives of workers, first responders and community members at risk is unacceptable,” said Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner. “Protestors need to know actions that put people in harm’s way will be prosecuted, and that we are working with the police and other authorities to assure worker safety.”
Line 3 starts in Alberta and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing northern Minnesota en route to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. It was built in the 1960s. After years of regulatory reviews and other court challenges, Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge began construction on the 337-mile (542-kilometer) replacement in Minnesota in early December. The other U.S. and Canadian sections are already finished.
Opponents say the tar sands oil Line 3 would carry would aggravate climate change and endanger pristine waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice. There is an area near the construction site that’s designated for protests, but some people have been arrested after interfering with the project.
“Peaceful protests are not illegal. There are no explosives,” the protest group Camp Migizi posted on Facebook on Friday. “Law enforcement induced hysteria is being used to manipulate the masses to (curb) resistance. The only immediate danger is the wellbeing of the rice, and the water.”