Guerilla tactics at CSG blockade
A LONE coal-seam gas protester created havoc for police yesterday after locking his arm in the ground to block a convoy of semi-trailers from entering Metgasco's Doubtful Creek drilling site.
The protester, Matt Graham from The Channon, used a particularly fiendish blockade device, affectionately known as a "dragon" by veteran blockaders.
He "locked-in" about 8am after a convoy of semi-trailers arrived at the site, including drilling fluid and a pump rig from Canadian pressure pumping company Trican.
The "dragon" is a steel pipe into which the protester chains his arm, the bottom end encased in concrete, the entire contraption packed with dirt and rocks.
"It's a delaying tactic, that's all it is... that's the only way we're going win this," Mr Graham said in the morning.
"I'd be happy to crash here overnight."
Police Rescue officers spent two hours using stakes and a shovel, followed by a jackhammer, but were unable to "free" Mr Graham.
Police then allowed trucks to drive around Mr Graham's prone body, but a crowd of some 40 protesters spontaneously gathered in front of the gates to the access road chanting "we shall not be moved".
At one point police had held up Mr Graham's legs as they tried to get the trucks past. They were ultimately forced to requisition a backhoe to finish the job.
While Mr Graham endured seven hours locked into the pipe, a crowd of supporters spontaneously trebled from 30 to around 100, issuing cheers of support.
By the end he was elbow deep in a two metre wide pit, surrounded by police, ambulance officers, and hooked up to an intravenous drip and heart monitor.
And if economics was his game, he had a small victory - two of the semi-trailers a drilling fluid tanker and a pumping rig were forced to idle for seven hours, unable do their work.
Kyogle local Wayne Somerville said the action was unplanned and the product of one individual.
"This is just one of the spontaneous actions that will keep springing up - this is not scripted," he said.
"I think it's just a measure of desperation that people are acting as individuals."
Mr Somerville was also critical of the hurried efforts to remove the lone protester.
"They shouldn't be rushing these trucks around - everything here is about a rush for Metgasco's dollar."
"I have no idea what's going to happen here tomorrow, let's just hope no one gets hurt."
Mr Graham was led into an ambulance just after 3pm - his arm still locked into the pipe.