Activists say arrests made in protest at Utah tar sands mine project
By Jennifer Dobner
SALT LAKE CITY, July 21 (Reuters) - Sheriff's deputies in Utah arrested nearly two dozen environmental protesters who chained themselves to fences and construction equipment on Monday at a tar sands mining project in the remote Book Cliffs mountains, an activist group said.
The Tar Sands Resistance group said about 80 activists set up a "blockade" at the PR Springs mine to highlight what it said would be huge environmental damage if it goes ahead.
"These projects do nothing but devastate the land and pollute the water and air," said TSR spokeswoman Jessica Lee, adding that Monday's action followed years of protests, lawsuits and other attempts to stop the work.
The mine, about 180 miles (290 km) southeast of Salt Lake City, is operated by Calgary-based U.S. Oil Sands. It is set to become Utah's first commercial fuel-producing tar sands operation when it opens next year.
Grading and construction of a processing plant are under way and the site is posted with no-trespassing signs, said Cameron Todd, the company's chief executive.
Thirteen protesters who chained themselves to equipment or fences were arrested by the Uintah County Sheriff's Office, Lee said. Six others were arrested trying to block law enforcement vehicles, and two more TSR supporters were arrested outside the sheriff's office in nearby Vernal, she said.
One of those arrested was taken to a hospital, she added.
The Uintah County Sheriff's Office did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. It was not immediately clear what charges those arrested might face. Continued...