This is what the Standing Rock protestors had feared! A faulty pipeline has been reported to leak over 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a clean water creek located just 2.5 hours away from the place of Standing Rock protests in North Dakota.
The spill went undetected by the pipeline owners and until a local resident found the problem. Up till now, the spill has spread almost 7 km (5.4 miles) from its origin, and the authorities are now investigating the reason behind the leak.
According to a report by CNN, a whopping 4,200 barrels of crude oil spilled from the Belle Fourche Pipeline leak in Billings County. The area is located 150 miles (241 km) away from Cannon Ball in North Dakota, the exact spot where the protesters have camped against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The protestors have been trying to stop the construction for months, their argument being that the Dakota Access Pipeline is built under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which is the primary water source for the residents. This runs the risk of polluting the drinking water resource, and ultimately the lives of the residents.
The protestors did get a huge victory last week when the US Department of the Army gave in and announced that they would not approve the pipeline construction under the Missouri River.
And this massive nearby spill might just prove the protestor’s point, as ironically it happened on the same day as when the Dakota Access Pipeline construction permit was denied.
According to reports by The Washington Post, the Belle Fourche Pipeline Co., who owns the pipeline in Billings Country, estimates spilling of 130,200 gallons of oil into the Little Missouri River last week, and another 46,200 gallons leaking onto a hillside.
“Due to potentially unstable soil conditions at the point of release, the cause of the incident is not yet known. The section of pipeline where the leak occurred has been isolated, and the spill has been contained.”
According to Bill Suess, who is an environmental scientist working at the North Dakota Department of Health, over 37,000 gallons of oil was recovered till Monday, but there’s still a lot more to go.
“It’s going to take some time. Obviously there will be some component of the cleanup that will go toward spring.”
Although the exact cause of the pipeline is being investigated, Belle Fourche Pipeline spokesperson, Wendy Owen, spoke to the Associated Press saying that a hillside slump due to increased snowfall might have caused the spill. She added,
“That is our number one theory, but nothing is definitive. We have several working theories and the investigation is ongoing.”
And adding to the woes is that the fact that electronic monitoring equipment failed to detect the leak, leading to the spilling of oil in such quantity. The area has had a history of oil spills, with True Companies, owner of Belle Fourche Pipeline Co, reporting more than 30 spilling incidents and an aggregate of 320,000 gallons of oil spilling since 2006.
“The Poplar Pipeline, operated by a True Companies subsidiary, leaked about 30,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana in 2015, prompting a town to shut down its drinking water service to 6,000 residents,” he adds.
What are your thoughts on the spilling incident?