The Dakota Access pipeline has suffered its first leak, outraging indigenous groups who have long warned that the project poses a threat to the environment.
The $3.8bn oil pipeline, which sparked international protests last year and is not yet fully operational, spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, according to government regulators.
Although state officials said the 6 April leak was contained and quickly cleaned, critics of the project said the spill, which occurred as the pipeline is in the final stages of preparing to transport oil, raises fresh concerns about the potential hazards to waterways and Native American sites.
“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been fighting the project for years. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”
Standing Rock Sioux tribe chairman Dave Archambault II said the spill is another sign that the courts should intervene.
“Our lawsuit challenging this dangerous project is ongoing, and it’s more important than ever for the court to step in and halt additional accidents before they happen – not just for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and our resources but for the 17 million people whose drinking water is at risk,” he said in a statement.
The company and the state made no announcements about the spill after it occurred.
More from CommonDreams:
“As far as this happening during the start-up, I don’t want to make it sound like a major event, but the fact that you had oil leaving the tank says there’s something not right with their procedures,” longtime pipeline infrastructure expert Richard B. Kuprewicz said to Dakota Media Group. “They might have been trying to hurry.”
Joye Braun, of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe (one of those still engaged in a legal battle to shut down the pipeline), cited Kuprewicz when explaining why the news was so concerning.
“This leak hits close to home, my home,” Braun said. “We have always said it’s not if, but when, pipelines leak, and to have someone like Richard B. Kuprewicz—a pipeline infrastructure expert and incident investigator with more than 40 years of energy industry experience—question the integrity and building practices of Dakota Access says something pretty serious could go wrong.”
“That worries me,” she continued. “South Dakota already faces water shortages and our livelihoods depend on water, from ranching and farming to healthcare. Do we have more spills just waiting to happen? This is our home, our land, and our water. This just proves their hastiness is fueled by greed not in the best interest for tribes or the Dakotas.”
News from elsewhere in the country this week hardly helps ETP’s case.
Following two spills of millions of gallons of drilling fluids into Ohio wetlands last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has “curtailed work” on ETP’s Rover gas pipeline, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
A lot more news in the comments. Hope to see you there!