MAY 25, 2017 4:35 PM PDT

The Dakota Access Pipeline is Already Leaking

Remember all the warnings about DAPL, Dakota Access Pipeline that will move North Dakota oil 1,200 miles through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois? Protests to stop the construction of this pipeline were all the media could talk about for over a year, and it was all because people were worried about their water sources. And rightly so; the pipeline is not even commercially running yet (due to start June 1) and already there have been several leaks.

Construction of DAPL went ahead after the Trump Administration issued permits, despite protests. Photo: Common Dreams

"This is what we have said all along: Oil pipelines leak and spill," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II told Vice. "The Dakota Access pipeline has not yet started shipping the proposed half million barrels of oil per day, and we are already seeing confirmed reports of oil spills from the pipeline."

The first leak occurred on March 3rd when two barrels, 84 gallons, spilled at a leaky flange (the part connecting two sections of pipeline) at a pipeline terminal in Watford City. Although oil flow was halted immediately and the spill did not reach any water sources or reportedly harm humans or wildlife, snow was contaminated and soil had to be removed.

Energy Transfer Partners is not taking responsibility for the leak, as it was on a part of the pipeline operated by a connecting shipper. Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for Texas-based Dakota Access developer Energy Transfer Partners, said “They are responsible for the operations, maintenance, etc.”

The second spill occurred only two days later on March 5 in rural Mercer County with a leak of half a barrel, or 20 gallons. Again, while contaminated soil was removed, no waterways were affected and there were no reported injuries to people or wildlife.

But those aren’t the only leaks the pipeline has seen in its young life. The pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota on April 4 at a rural pump station. It too was quickly monitored and cleaned and went undiscovered by the public because the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources only posted a report in its online database. North Dakota Environmental Health Chief Dave Glatt said the Health Department lists such incidents in its online database, but typically doesn’t otherwise notify the public of oil spills smaller than 150 barrels unless the oil contaminates water, so as not to frighten (or outrage?) the public.

But the knowledge is out now, and the public is outraged. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked a judge to determine Trump’s go-ahead permits illegal, stating that these leaks only offer more proof of the danger the pipeline presents on local water sources.

"We've asked him to vacate the permits which would mean the pipeline has to stop," said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. "At this point we are waiting for a decision from the court."The decision could take weeks or months.

Sources: CBS Local Minnesota, RT

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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