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Enbridge protests draw criticism from union officials

A Friday protest shut down work on Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement work outside Superior for about an hour.

There were no issues and no arrests, according to Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec.

It was the second protest of the week. The first, on Aug. 21, shut down work for about two hours, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Both protests took place along Douglas County Road W, what an Enbridge spokeswoman described to Tribune reporter Brady Slater as a 12.5- mile segment of the new line.

Sheriff's deputies responded to an area of County Highway W near the state line at 10:31 a.m. Friday, according to sheriff's office reports. They found about 30 protesters along the roadway.

No damage to equipment was reported, although protesters had reportedly been out on the site climbing on equipment prior to deputies responding. Law enforcement remained on site to monitor the situation.

Protesters left the site after about one hour and Enbridge employees resumed work on the pipeline.

Dan Olson with Laborers Local 1091 and Terrance McGowan, president of Operating Engineers Local 139, both released statements Friday calling the protests unsafe and urging them to stop.

"Construction sites are inherently dangerous and only people with the training and legally-required certifications should enter an active site," McGowan said. "The protesters' actions endangered not only their own safety, but also the safety of the workers and contractors on site, the surrounding communities and the environment."

He urged protesters to make their voices heard through legal channels.

"While we respect the right of people to protest, that does not extend to trespassing on private land, damaging equipment and exhibiting violent behavior toward a project that is legally permitted and is intended to improve safety," Olson said.

Such actions can impact local workers and cause division long after the agitators have moved on, he said.

"Many of the hard-working men and women who faced these masked protesters are from Douglas County and surrounding areas," McGowan said. "They live here, pay taxes here, send their kids to school here and worship here."

Road closes for pipeline work

The section of North 58th Street between Cedar and Weeks avenues will be closed to traffic this week due to road construction work at the Enbridge pipeline crossing. The bike trail will also be closed. Both are set to reopen about 5 p.m. Friday.

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