DAPL Already Leaking Before Construction Is Finished


Protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) received validation after it suffered its first leak- before it was even fully operational. Indigenous and environmental groups were outraged that their warnings of the environmental threats this project posed have already started to come to pass.

The $3.8 billion oil pipeline, which sparked controversial protests throughout last year, spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, according to government regulators. The spill, equal to about two barrels of oil, occurred in the Tulare Township in Spink County at the beginning of April. Although officials state that the leak was contained and quickly cleaned, critics of the project raised concerns once again about the potential hazards to the waterways and Native American sites.

“They keep telling everybody that it is a state of the art [pipeline], 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 against the project for years. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”

The pipeline is in its final stages of preparing to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It was dealt a major blow when the Obama administration denied a key permit for the project towards the end of his term. After his inauguration though, President Donald Trump ordered the revival of the pipeline. He went out of his way to expedite the final stage of construction despite discussion about his conflicts of interest with Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation spearheading the project. After Trump’s intervention, ETP received approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers in Feb and are now expecting DAPL to be in service by June 1. But the leak has renewed discussion on the pipeline, as the oil was spilled around 100 miles east of Lake Oahe, a part of the Missouri River system that has been one of the main focal points of the protests.

“This is what we have said all along: oil pipelines leak and spill,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. The Sioux tribe, who have been locked in a lawsuit against ETP and the US government for several months, have argued over the last few months that the project requires a full environmental study to assess the short and long-term effects of the pipeline. This April spill, uncovered by a local South Dakota reporter, illustrates the need for this full environmental assessment which was never properly completed.

“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,” Archambault said. “Not just for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and our resources but for the 17 million people whose drinking water is at risk.”

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