Dakota Access pipeline springs 2 more oil leaks
Not yet fully operational, the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in North Dakota in two separate incidents.
Two barrels, or 84 gallons, spilled due to a leaky flange at a pipeline terminal in Watford City on March 3, according to the North Dakota Health Department. A flange is a section connecting two sections of pipeline.
The department’s incident report said the oil flow was immediately cut off and the spill was contained on the site. Contaminated snow and oils was removed and no people, wildlife or waterways were affected.
In a separate incident, a leak of half a barrel, or 20 gallons of oil, occurred on March 5 in rural Mercer County, according to data from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Contaminated soil was removed and no people, wildlife or water ways were affected.
The online report says an above-ground valve failed due to a manufacturing defect causing the leak and upstream and downstream valves were closed to isolate the leak. Later, all other such valves on the line were inspected and were found to be working well.
The Dakota Access pipeline, a construction project estimated at $3.8 billion, will move North Dakota oil 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois.
DAPL's operators, Energy Transfer Partners, plans to begin commercial operations June 1.
That means three leak incidents over recent months, adding to South Dakota already substantial record of environmental woes.
Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said South Dakota typically gets 200 to 300 spills a year from fuel leaks, pipelines, oil wells, and various other sources.
"We do not generally issue a public notice for a spill unless there is an imminent threat to public health, a drinking-water system, or surface-water body," Walsh told Vice. "We treated this 84-gallon spill just as we would treat any other 84-gallon spill that occurs in our state."
On April 1, mechanical failure caused an 84-gallons oil to leak northeast of Tulare, a tiny town in South Dakota, according to Aberdeen News.
The leak happened during the testing of a surge pump, according to Walsh, and was entirely contained and is considered small. Environment groups and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, however, argue the spill is a sign of more to come.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had warned about the possibility of leaks and spills from oil pipelines like DAPL and the threats it could pose to their drinking water supply.
The tribe has also asked a judge to declare that the Trump administration's reversal of the environmental study and subsequent issuing of the permits as illegal.
"We've asked him to vacate the permits which would mean the pipeline has to stop," said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. "At this point we are waiting for a decision from the court."
The decision could take weeks or months.
"This is what we have said all along: Oil pipelines leak and spill," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II told Vice. "The Dakota Access pipeline has not yet started shipping the proposed half million barrels of oil per day, and we are already seeing confirmed reports of oil spills from the pipeline."