The Dakota Access Pipeline is not yet fully operational and it has already had a leak. This is why people were protesting the construction of the pipeline. This is why no one wanted it.
The $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which was the subject of international protests because of the threat it posed to both the environment and the indigenous people living along the Missouri River, has already had a leak more than a month before it’s scheduled to be fully operational.The April 6 leak spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, and although state officials said the leak was contained and quickly cleaned, The Guardian reports that critics of the pipeline say the spill raises new concerns about the potential hazards to waterways and Native American sites.
More from AP:
The April 4 spill was relatively small and was quickly cleaned up, and it didn’t threaten any waterways. The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources posted a report in its website’s searchable database, but it didn’t take any other steps to announce it to the public, despite an ongoing lawsuit by four Sioux tribes seeking to shut down the pipeline.
Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the agency, said Wednesday that the state doesn’t issue news releases on spills unless there is a threat to public health, a fishery or a drinking water system. He said there was no such threat with the Dakota Access leak, which happened nearly 100 miles east of the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir, which is the tribes’ water supply.
Wouldn’t an announcement have been good just in the interest of general transparency? If there was no threat to anyone, why not let people know? Especially if there was, as reported, such a fast response and clean up?
“We realize Dakota Access gets a lot of attention. We also try to treat all of our spills in a consistent manner,” Walsh said. “We treated this as we would treat any other 84-gallon oil spill.”
The leak occurred at a rural pump station in the northeast of the state as crews worked to get the four-state pipeline fully operational, Walsh said. The oil was contained on site by a plastic liner and containment walls and quickly cleaned up. Some oil-contaminated gravel will be disposed of at an area landfill, he said.
Such incidents have happened with other pipelines in South Dakota, and the Dakota Access leak didn’t come as a surprise, according to Walsh. The state is happy with the response of Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners and won’t issue a fine, he said.
“Size-wise, an 84-gallon release is pretty small relative to a lot of other things we work on,” Walsh said. “I would characterize it as a small operational spill that was cleaned up right away.”
Here’s the thing. Sure, this leak may have been relatively small, contained, and cleaned up quickly, but that doesn’t mean the next leak will be, and that is the point.
It is inevitable that there will be leaks in the pipeline. The greater concerns are when, where and how big?
The pipeline is set to be fully operational on June 1.
I guess we will have to just wait and see.