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Group bars access to Shell sour gas site; says grizzly bears will be affected

By: The Canadian Press Posted: 05/24/2011 9:54 PM

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. – A small group has blocked access to a sour gas well site in southwestern Alberta.

The province’s Energy Resources Conservation Board approved the Shell project in March and drilling was supposed to start last week in the Castle wilderness area just north of Waterton National Park.

Residents appealed the decision, saying drilling will disrupt core grizzly bear habitat.

Opponents say Shell (TSX:SHC) should wait for the Alberta Court of Appeal to rule on an appeal of the board’s approval before it starts drilling.

Shell spokesperson Larry Lalonde says with more than 50 wells and 200 kilometres of pipeline already in the area, the well won’t have much of an impact.

He says the company will take action to minimize the project’s impact, such as using existing access roads instead of building new ones and moving rare plants to a different area.

Mike Judd, an outfitter and local landowner, is one of the 12 protesters.

“This well is on public land that belongs to all of us Albertans. Albertans have said over and over again they are very interested and very concerned about what’s happening to our public lands and wildlife and that they want to make sure that it is maintained,” Judd said.

Dianne Pachal of the Sierra Club environmental group, says the Alberta government designated the Castle area as a protected area — one of 81 in the province — but hasn’t brought in the legislation to actually do it.

(CHLB)

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