Dakota Access Pipeline Hits a Milestone: Its First Leak

SD officials say it was quickly contained and isn't a big deal, but Sioux aren't buying it
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2017 9:24 AM CDT
Dakota Access Pipeline Hits a Milestone: Its First Leak
This Sept. 29, 2016, file photo shows a section of the Dakota Access pipeline under construction near St. Anthony in Morton County, ND.   (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

Eighty-four gallons of oil may not be a huge amount, but that amount leaking out of the Dakota Access pipeline in April isn't reassuring those who've long protested it. Per NBC News, the leak was caused by mechanical failure of a surge pump at a pump station in Tulare, SD. The spill was reportedly contained by gravel in a containment area; the gravel was carted off to be properly disposed of, officials say. CNNMoney notes that the "relatively small" leak on April 4 was initially reported only on the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources website, until the AP picked up the story Wednesday. Per NBC, companies aren't obligated to call in pipeline leaks to the feds unless it's more than five barrels, or around 210 gallons, as long as they take care of the mess ASAP.

"These kinds of spills do occur," says a rep for the nonprofit Pipeline Safety Trust. Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council Chair Dave Archambault II agrees, noting in a statement that "this is what we have said all along: oil pipelines leak and spill." He adds the pipeline hasn't even started handling its full load, expected to be 470,000 barrels of oil a day between North Dakota and Illinois. The Sioux, who continue to wage legal war against the pipeline, are afraid their main water supply, the Missouri River, will be tainted. An environmental scientist with the state agency, however, says there was never any risk to the tribe's water supply—or any public health risk—because the leak happened almost 100 miles from the tribe's drinking-water reservoir. Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the pipeline, issued a statement that simply said the spill "stayed in the containment area as designed." (Read more Dakota Access Pipeline stories.)

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