Even before becoming fully operational, the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline is already leaking, hinting at a bleak future for the surrounding area.
The leak, which happened on April 6 and has since been repaired, is starting to come to light, and confirms the fesr of local indigenous groups who say the pipeline will endanger drinking water supplies that millions of people along the pipeline’s route depend on. An attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe — which organized a months-long protest occupation at the pipeline’s construction site resulting in the Obama administration eventually giving up on the project — told The Guardian that the leak proves the tribe right.
“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” Jan Hasselman said. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”
A local reporter in Aberdeen, South Dakota initially broke the news of the spill, which amounted to roughly 84 gallons of crude oil. While this particular leak was small, the pipeline’s 2,000-mile route runs underneath the Missouri River, which, according to the Izaak Walton League of America, is a critical drinking water supply for millions of people in multiple states, as well as an essential water source for various plant and animal life.
While former President Barack Obama’s Department of the Army denied the easement for the construction of the pipeline, President Donald Trump — who held stock in the pipeline up until December of last year — made greenlighting the pipeline’s construction one of his first executive decisions just four days after his inauguration.
In a public statement, Standing Rock chairman David Archambault II said the spill is further proof that the judicial system needs to step in and stop the pipeline from being built for the sake of the environment and the health of people who depend on the Missouri River.
“Our lawsuit challenging this dangerous project is ongoing,” he said. “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.”
Tom Cahill is a senior editor for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook by clicking here.