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A coalition of over 30 Brighton-based campaigners, in solidarity with groups across the world, took over the BP petrol station on Lewes Road, Brighton on Saturday 10th April 2010 to demand that the company withdraw its controversial decision to begin extracting oil from the Canadian tar sands.
Displaying banners reading “Tar Sands Oil Is Blood Oil” and “Shut Down Tar Sands”, the demonstrators peacefully occupied the petrol station forecourt with pop-up tents and explained to motorists prevented from entering why they were there.
“The tar sands are the biggest environmental crime on the planet,” said Will Cottrell, one of the campaigners. “The process of extracting oil from them is leaving a hole the size of England in the Canadian wilderness.”
“This catastrophe is largely being financed by British banks, financial institutions and corporations.”
He added, “There are toxic lakes so vast you can see them from space, the local indigenous people are being killed by poisoned water and food supplies, and that’s without the looming threat of runaway climate change.”
“Extracting oil from the tar sands produces three to five times as much greenhouse gas as conventional oil,” he explained. “If the tar sands continue being exploited, there’s absolutely no way we can escape ‘tarmageddon.’”
“It’s up to BP to take the responsible decision never to extract oil from the tar sands. Otherwise its newly re-branded name of ‘Beyond Petroleum’ is nothing more than a very bitter joke.”
“We have had a very good response from passers-by and motorists cheering us on. It’s good to know the truth about BP’s involvement in the tar sands is getting out there.”
The demonstration came as part of an international day of action spearheaded by activists from the First Nation tribes of Canada, who are suffering the worst effects of poisoning and environmental degradation from the tar sands. BP forecourts were also occupied in Oxford and London.