Thursday, February 27, 2020
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Dakota Access Pipeline Leaks

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The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline incited massive demonstrations by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes (and their supporters). [1] They argued that the pipeline, which connected to the Bakken oil field, would pose a risk to their safety if it leaked into the earth and their water source. Despite these protests, the construction company responsible claimed that the pipeline was safe and would not affect the Native American tribes, and that it would bring more much-needed crude oil to the U.S. After an executive order issued by President Trump, the construction of the pipeline resumed under the assurance that it would not leak. [2]

However, yesterday, it was reported that the pipeline had leaked—before it was even finished being constructed.

Just days before the pipeline would be declared operational, the DAPL is already leaking. A spill was documented on April 4 in Spink County, South Dakota. The spill occurred 100 miles from Lake Oahe, the Sioux tribes’ main water source.

This is not the only time such an oil spill has occurred in the Dakotas. In December 2013, crude oil was discovered bubbling in a farm. This was the result of an underground six-inch pipeline from the operator Tesoro. Approximately 865,200 gallons of oil were spilled.

However, the DAPL is a thirty-inch pipeline, meaning that it is at a much greater risk to leaking than a six-inch pipeline. And such a leak could happen again, according to opponents of the pipeline.

North Dakota’s infrastructure experiences an oil leak an average of once every twelve hours. [3] Most oil leaks pass unnoticed  for a long time, but some can have impacts on public safety. Groundwater is the source of over 50% of public drinking water, and if it were contaminated, there could be a huge water crisis. “Poisoning may be caused by toxins that have leached into well water supplies. Wildlife can also be harmed by contaminated groundwater. Other long term effects such as certain types of cancer may also result from exposure to polluted water.”

It is unlikely that the DAPL will be halted at this point. It is completely built and can serve oil from Bakken. Halting the pipeline would not only affect the American economy, but it would waste all of the money invested in the project. Additionally, such an action is unlikely under the new Trump administration and federal court system. [3]

This spill in the Dakota Access Pipeline may be one of many. We can only hope that Lake Oahe is not contaminated and the Sioux tribes stay safe.






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