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VANCOUVER, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Canadian police said on Thursday they arrested environmental protesters who have been blocking work at two Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP sites in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, three days after a court injunction for their removal came into effect.
Kinder Morgan, which hopes to triple the size of its 300,000-barrel-per-day Trans Mountain pipeline, plans to bore two holes deep into Burnaby Mountain to test if it will be possible to run the expanded pipeline under the conservation site, which is a popular hiking and picnic area for locals.
Staff Sergeant Major John Buis, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told Reuters that the protesters camped out at the sites were removed Thursday morning.
"There were about a dozen people in the camps when we went up there," he said. "I don't know if all of them have been arrested, it was a very fluid situation."
Some of the protesters may have moved over to a nearby third camp, which is not covered under the injunction, rather than be arrested, Buis added.
Protesters, who call themselves caretakers of the site, said in a statement that least 12 people were arrested.
Houston-based Kinder Morgan was granted an injunction late last week to clear the protest camps and resume surveying work on the C$5.4 billion ($4.8 billion) expansion project. The court order was enforceable as of Monday.
Many area residents are opposed to the pipeline plan, which would allow the company to ship more tar sands crude from Alberta to the port of Vancouver and on to Asian markets. Protesters for weeks had blocked crews from working on the mountain.
The Trans Mountain project is also opposed by many environmental and aboriginal groups, as well as by the mayors of Burnaby and Vancouver.
The injunction is Kinder Morgan's latest win against its opponents. The city of Burnaby sought to block work on the site after crews cut down trees, but lost before both a court and the national energy regulator.
It was not clear when the company would be able to resume work at the two sites, as the protesters' tents and other belongings have not yet been removed.
1 US dollar = 1.1297 Canadian dollar Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Leslie Adler