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Published on May 11th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley

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Dakota Access Pipeline Has Already Had Its 1st Oil Spill And It’s Not Even Operating Yet

May 11th, 2017 by  

The Dakota Access pipeline has already spilled crude oil into the environment and it is not even in operation yet. On April 6, 84 gallons of the liquid crud was dumped into a containment pit in South Dakota — the state that went out of its way to hire weaponized security guards to harass and intimidate people protesting the pipeline last year.

It’s Only 84 Gallons. Get Over It.

dakota access-oil spill

84 gallons is small potatoes, but it drives home an essential truth about all the systems mankind has devised to transport oil from place to place. They all leak. Somewhere, somehow, the vile stuff gets out and when it does, it causes untold damage to the environment. Whether it is the Exxon Valdez supertanker running aground in Alaska or the Deep Water Horizon self-immolating in the Gulf of Mexico, exploding oil trains in Canada or gasoline pipelines exploding in the South, the dangers of transporting oil are legion and growing every day.

“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.” Hasselman is also an attorney for EarthJustice. “It doesn’t give us any pleasure to say, ‘I told you so.’ But we have said from the beginning that it’s not a matter of if, but when. Pipelines leak and they spill. It’s just what happens.”

Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota department of environment and natural resources, said the spill was relatively minor and was caused by a mechanical failure at a surge pump. “It’s not uncommon to have a small release at a pump station,” he said. Walsh said the company responded immediately and cleaned up the oil. The leak occurred inside a “secondary containment area” and there were no environmental impacts, he added.

Standing Rock Sioux tribe chairman Dave Archambault II released a statement about the spill, calling it another reason why the courts should intervene. “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 – not just for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and our resources but for the 17 million people whose drinking water is at risk.”

Secrecy Reigns In The Oil Industry

It is significant that neither the state of South Dakota nor Energy Transfer Partners, the company in charge of building the controversial Dakota Access pipeline made any public statement about the spill. The fact that is happened at all was first uncovered by a reporter for the Aberdeen News. Walsh says his department only releases public notices of spills when there is an imminent threat to a waterway or public health.

A spokesperson for ETP told the Associated Press that the pipeline is safe and the leak was contained in the proper manner. Hasselman said these kinds of spills should be immediately disclosed. “What kind of oversight and accountability is there if no one even finds out about these things until weeks later?” ETP’s cavalier approach is similar to the response it had when it was found to have dumped 2 million gallons of bentonite clay into a wetland in Ohio. “What’s the big deal? It’s good clean mud,” was essentially how it responded to that incident.

Corruption Extends Into The Oval Office

The Guardian reported last year that putative president Donald Trump has invested between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners. He has invested a similar amount in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the pipeline once it is completed. To make the extent of corruption that surrounds Trump even clearer, the Trump campaign received a $100,000 donations from the CEO of ETP. So we have a situation in which a sitting president makes a decision to approve a pipeline in which he has a significant financial interest after being elected in part by campaign contributions from the company building the pipeline.

That is the very definition of corruption, yet many in America could care less just as long as the country builds a wall along the Mexican border, excludes virtually all Muslims from the United States, and insists that everyone urinates in the properly designated receptacle.

This story also raises an important point about a free and independent press. The Donald is blustering about changing laws to make it easier to sue reporters for libel, which roughly means publishing anything he doesn’t like. Once that happens, we can be sure the public will never hear about oil spills, methane emissions, carbon dioxide pollution, or climate change ever again, a state of affairs that would suit more Republicans in Congress just fine.

Source: The Guardian


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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Elie Wiesel



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