Items seized by police during a search of Wiebo Ludwig’s Alberta property include chemistry books, notebooks, copper wire, and office supplies, according to documents released by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Ludwig, an outspoken critic of the oil and gas industry, was arrested and questioned in connection with a series of pipeline bombings in the Dawson Creek area of northeastern B.C. the day the search began on Jan. 8. He was released the following day without charge.
In the extensive four-day search of Ludwig’s sprawling Trickle Creek farm, RCMP officers seized hundreds of items including handwritten notes that detailed “apparent hiding spots for weapons.”
Books with titles such as Blaster’s Training Manual, Oil and Gas at Your Door?, and Harvest of Rage—Why Oklahoma City is only the Beginning, were also seized, as well as five introductory-level chemistry books and one called Getting Started in Electronics.
Weapons seized include a pellet handgun, a crossbow, a homemade copper blowgun, and a broken double-barrelled shotgun.
Notebooks that contained information on pipelines and the oil and gas industry were also taken, as were diary notations about oil and gas, the RCMP, and a 2000 entry about Karman Gillis.
Sixteen-year-old Gillis was fatally shot in 1999 when she and several other teens were joyriding in a pickup truck on Ludwig’s property in the middle of the night. No one has ever been charged in her death.
The RCMP has been investigating a string of bomb attacks against EnCana installations near Dawson Creek, where hundreds of wells and pipelines have gone into operation over the past 10 years.
Shortly after the first attack was discovered in October 2008, a handwritten letter was sent to local media outlets demanding that EnCana shut down operations in the area.
“We will no longer negotiate with terrorists which you are as you keep endangering our families with crazy expansion of deadly gas wells in our home lands,” the letter stated.
Five other bombings followed over the next nine months, the most recent being last July. No one has been injured in the attacks, but locals and pipeline workers are worried about the possibility of a lethal gas leak.
In its natural form sour gas contains hydrogen sulphide, a toxic substance that is removed during the treatment process at gas plants.
In September 2009 Ludwig wrote an open letter to the bomber supporting the cause but encouraging him to abandon the bombings. Calgary-based EnCana has put up a $1-million reward for information about the attacks.
In the 1990s, Ludwig embarked on a decade-long crusade against sour gas wells in the area, which he believes poisoned his family and farm and caused his daughter’s miscarriages.
After a high-profile trial in 2001, he was convicted on five charges related to bombings and other forms of vandalism against oil and gas installations causing millions of dollars damage. He was released from prison after serving two-thirds of a 28-month sentence.
During a bail hearing for Ludwig and co-accused Richard Boonstra in 2001, it was revealed that as part of a “dirty tricks” campaign, the RCMP bombed an oil installation and blamed it on Ludwig. The Crown admitted the allegations were true.
Although initially the sour gas wells were situated away from populated areas, the sheer number being sunk along with the convenience of using local infrastructure means that the wells are now often placed as close as 100 metres from homeowners’ property limits.
Dan Przybylski, publisher of the Dawson Creek Daily News, told CBC News that many people in the community have expressed concerns about the oil and gas activity in the region and many who live near the pipelines are worried for their safety.
“There is getting to be growing frustration and growing concern among the agricultural community about the number of pipelines that are criss-crossing the area, the ability that the oil and gas companies have … accessing their property, the kinds of claims or compensation that the farmers and ranchers are getting,” Przybylski said.