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Nine hours in the ‘Traumatron’

SO FAR some 40 people have been arrested in relation to direct action protests against CSG mining in the region.

Some individuals are resorting to extraordinary measures to prevent Metgasco from completing their drilling schedules. Rodney Sharp, who spent nine hours locked into a heavily modified vehicle dubbed 'The Traumatron' last week, is one such individual.

Rodney has been at the Glenugie blockade since it began in November. He was integral in creating the complex defence network that delayed the 60-strong police force at an earlier action on January 7.

He said his motivation is simple:

"It's our right to protect our water against the poisoning of the aquifers. I've got two 13 year-old boys. That's what it's all about."

The Traumatron's dramatic arrival came in the pre-dawn hours of the day that the drill rig was scheduled to leave the Glenugie site to make its way to Doubtful Creek.

Rodney takes up the story:

"It was pretty elaborate. It had an old wagon wheel on top, covered with a tarp so it looked like a scorpion tail. The trailer was merged with a long wheel-base made from farming equipment," he said.

"We arrived at about 4.30am. The people there created a distraction so the guards were scattered and we rammed the gate, but then we got stuck. We were able to back it up and dig in."

Rodney said they then pierced the tyres and hammered in big car axles and he locked himself to a device that was cemented into the ground.

"When the fireys arrived, they freaked out about the petrol (that had leaked) and the girls on the roof... When the SES arrived, I told them 'no angle grinding, there's too much petrol around'. They smashed the window and filled the car with foam and started cutting. A fire did start outside anyway, but someone saw it before it got out of hand."

The SES used crowbars and grinders to peel back the skin of the car to get to Rodney."Finally they jack-hammered right down to the pipe, found the harness point and unhooked me. It was nine hours.

"I was charged with resist arrest, obstruct police, trespass and enter enclosed land. But I didn't even get fingerprinted - they offered me a shower and a cigarette. Other cops came in and congratulated me."

Rodney said the point of such extreme action is to delay operations, cost the company money and let them know how determined people are to stop the coal seam gas industry in the Northern Rivers.

Delaying tactics

Rodney was also involved in creating a system of tree-sits and flying foxes at Glenugie.

Other protestors, including local farmers and Knitting Nannas at both Glenugie and Doubtful Creek have improvised ingenious devices to express their non-violent civil dissent at the CSG industry's apparent omnipotence. Here are a few examples of delaying tactics.

People have manacled their wrists in specially designed 'lock-on' boxes around steel objects that require an angle grinder to be removed.

Otherwise they lock-on to emplacements through pipes buried underground known as 'dragons'.

A common tactic is to climb atop tripods made of poles lashed together, so a gate can't be entered without putting the tripod climber at risk. Clare Twomey, a Knitting Nanna, did so at Doubtful Creek. Her tripod, strategically placed atop the gate to the drill site, necessitated the use of a cherry picker with Police Rescue personnel to remove her and allow the drill rig convoy through.

Another protestor was arrested at Doubtful Creek after being extracted from a tunnel dug underneath the roadway. A heavy convoy could not have passed over the tunnel without crushing anyone within it.


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