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Councillor alleges lax security at Caledonia transformer station

Hydro One says transformer monitored 24/7

Monte Sonnenberg
Simcoe Reformer
Thursday, June 15, 2006

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Hydro One disputes an allegation that a critical hydro transformer station near Caledonia is unguarded and vulnerable to attack.

Waterford Coun. Harold Sonnenberg leveled the charge at this week’s meeting of Norfolk council.

Sonnenberg, who owns a water bottling business in Caledonia, has been monitoring the native standoff there on a daily basis. Tuesday night, Sonnenberg said he frequently drives by the transformer station and sees no evidence of beefed up security. On one occasion, he reported seeing no one but native protesters milling about outside the fence.

Sonnenberg warned that the transformer remains vulnerable to the same kind of sabotage that plunged large sections of Norfolk and Haldimand into a three-day blackout last month.

“That hydro station is not secure,” Sonnenberg said. “The same thing could happen at any moment.”

Sonnenberg reported that Hydro One hired a security guard to watch the 230,000-volt station after it was vandalized May 22. He said native protesters burned the guard’s vehicle and evicted him from the site, which is located on the west side of Highway 6 in southwest Caledonia.

Hydro One gave assurances yesterday that the site is secure.

“The OPP is providing 24-7 security,” said spokesperson Al Manchee. “There is security there, and we are back to normal operations.”

Sonnenberg made his remarks during a discussion of an angry letter sent to the county by Sandra Shafto of Simcoe. Shafto, an employee of Good Humour-Breyers in Simcoe, says she lost $300 in wages and $100 worth of food due to the blackout. She expects to be compensated.

“I am speaking out for my rights as a person and expect to be heard,” Shafto says in her letter. “The government gets a paycheque -- hydro or no hydro -- and I have every right for my loss also.

“I take this very seriously. When our government wants money in which we owe them, they hound us ‘til they get it. Now I am standing my ground. I want my loss back. And I am entitled to my loss from someone and I don’t care who has to pay.”

The transformer was vandalized on the afternoon of May 22 following clashes between protesters from the Six Nations reserve and frustrated residents of Caledonia. A vehicle was rammed through the gates and set on fire beneath a control panel. As well, a backup transformer in an adjoining building was also damaged. Hydro One has pegged the cost of repairs at $1.5 million.

“This was not caused by a lightning storm,” Simcoe Coun. Charlie Luke said. “This could have been prevented. That’s what angers people. This was done by people to other people, and you can pick up the tab.”

Natives dispute ownership of the 100-acre Douglas Creek Estates subdivision in southwest Caledonia. They say Six Nations never ceded ownership of the property, which was granted by treaty 200 years ago, to the crown. Native activists occupied the site Feb. 28 and subsequently erected barricades on Argyle Street South and the Highway 6 bypass west of town. The last of the barricades came down this week.

A spokesperson for the OPP at the force’s media centre in Caledonia would not comment on the allegation that the transformer station is vulnerable to further vandalism. Const. Jeff Walraven of the Huron County OPP said the force, as a matter of policy, does not comment on matters of an operational nature.

Monte Sonnenberg (519) 426-5710 ext. 150

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