Dakota Access Pipeline Experiences Two New Oil Spills

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline may not be in full operation, but it’s already making an alarming splash.

It recently came to light that the unfinished tar sand oil pipeline experienced two new oil spills. The two separate spills — one on March 3 and the other on March 5 — leaked over 100 gallons, contaminating soil and snow in North Dakota.

While these spills are quite small — as far as pipeline leaks go — they remain deeply troubling.

Care2 recently reported that DAPL leaked 84 gallons of oil in April. And while all three spills, according to officials, have been effectively contained and cleaned up, it is difficult to imagine that the frequency of such events will diminish or decrease in severity once the project goes into full operation.

Those involved in DAPL’s construction and the mitigation of these oil spills, however, appear to be fully aware of this fact. In a statement on the April spill, the company leading DAPL’s construction claimed clean up was conducted “as designed.”

Keystone XL, another oil pipeline whose construction inspired a great deal of opposition, spilled 540,000 gallons last year.

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL have long argued that oil spills are inevitable, endangering local wildlife and putting natural water systems at risk. Given what we have so far seen — and coupled with officials’ admittance to the eventuality of spills — there seems to be little justification for the continued push to build and use these massive new pipelines.

Part of the problem comes from the type of oil involved. Both DAPL and KXL transport diluted bitumen – sometimes shortened as “dilbit” — a particular type of heavy oil that is produced from mined tar sands in Canada. Compared to crude oil, dilbit is especially corrosive to pipelines.

This is not a new information by any means, yet the narrative pushed by proponents of DAPL and KXL is that older, deteriorating pipelines cause corrosion. While this certainly plays a role in other pipeline oil spills, it does not acknowledge the hazards of pumping dilbit — and does not explain why these shiny new pipelines are already having oil leaks.

Litigation against the construction of DAPL, brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is ongoing. But as more spills are exposed, they lend greater credence to the tribe’s concerns.

Some argue that these costs are worthwhile for “energy independence” — an intellectually disingenuous position, considering that the United States exports an enormous amount of crude oil, recently hitting an all-time high.

In reality, the end of the embargo on oil experts under Obama had one chief goal -– to undermine other major oil exporting nations, like Russia and members of OPEC. And for the fossil fuel energy sector, such a political priority couldn’t be more ideal for their agendas.

Alternative energy technology is no longer prohibitively expensive or inefficient. All that is lacking, it would seem, is the political and business willpower to implement it.

Photo Credit: Carl Wycoff / Wikimedia Commons

112 comments

Jennifer H
Jennifer H2 months ago

For those spill faux paus news Supporters (Dan, David) "do your research" The Atlantic, New York, API Bismarck articles- "Oil is now flowing through the pipeline—and, crucially, beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota, which is sacred to local Lakota and Dakota people and their only source of water." Also, "There’s 17 million people downstream. Just because oil is flowing today doesn’t mean it won’t leak in the future,” said David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Standing Rock was among the first groups to legally challenge the pipeline, and the thousands of protesters who gathered to oppose it camped on their land." AND...
BISMARCK, N.D. — The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline began shipping oil for customers on Thursday, as Native American tribes that opposed the project vowed to continue fighting.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners announced that the 1,200-mile line carrying North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois had begun commercial service. The Dakota Access pipeline and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline from Illinois to the Gulf Coast together make up the $4.8 billion Bakken Pipeline system, which ETP said has commitments for about 520,000 barrels of oil daily.
ARCK TRIBUNE VIA AP)
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated: Thursday, June 1, 2

SEND
Philippa P
Philippa Powers2 months ago

A pipeline is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

SEND
Dan B
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

Vor C.,
Good point. If no oil is flowing through it, how can it leak? Maybe oil, like the news, is fake.

SEND
Margie F
Margie F2 months ago

It is bad news as it is a new pipeline.

SEND
David F
David F2 months ago

Vor. C The liberal Fake News is hyperventilating bonkers at saturating the airwaves cable and print with outright lies, wild conspiracy theories, and intentionally creating Karl Marx style "useful idiots".
They cannot believe a President has the guts to call them the Fake News they continuously spew.
Nazi collaborator, American constitution hater, Democrat billionaire financer and socialist George Soros is so proud of his "Useful idiots" his millions created.

SEND
william M
william Miller2 months ago

thanks

SEND
Vor C
Vor C.2 months ago

Did anyone fact check this thing?

Keystone XL has *NOT* been constructed yet, so it is very hard for it to be operational and leak 540,000 gallons of oil last year.

DAPL is a domestic pipeline to carry light sweet crude from the Bakken fields, not diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands.

Advocating for alternative energy and reducing petroleum reliance is great....but you hurt the cause more than you help it if you rely on inaccurate facts to make your case.

SEND
Brian F
Brian F2 months ago

David F The dirty oil and gas industries would not have survived if the government didn't give them money for the last 100 years and continue to do so. Even now, the dirty foil fuel industry gets 4 times more money from the Government to help it stay afloat, as the wind and solar industries get, and who must fight for tax breaks every 5 years. Even despite this horrible discrimination, clean renewable energy is growing much faster than dirty fossil fuels worldwide, and will soon replace all dirty fossil fuels. The price of wind and solar is cheaper than dirty oil, and gas, and continues to decline rapidly, so it's only a matter of time before clean renewable energy replaces dirty fossil fuels.

SEND
David F
David F2 months ago

Brian Fake News has you convinced everything is backwards.
Brian, the government does not write checks to oil companies, you make it sound like oil is subsidized like wind and solar are when they receive cash from the treasury and loan guarantees.
Obama lost Billions in taxpayer labor with "green" loan guarantees.

Exxon alone paid 31 billion to the feds in 2014 that's with Exxon making about 7 cents a gallon while the Federal government makes 27 cents on top of all the state taxes.
Fossil fuel industry subsidizes the Governments not the other way around.

SEND
Brian F
Brian F2 months ago

Herbert We've subsidized dirty fossil fuels for the last 100 years, and continue to subsidize them. If we ended our subsidies for dirty fossil fuels, and subsidized clean renewable energy for the next 10 years, renewables would accelerate much faster. Trump and the republicans are bought and paid for by our dirty fossil fuel industry, and are trying to block clean renewable energy, and keep us using dirty fossil fuels. So clean renewable energy has a much harder time emerging, because they don't have the generous subsidies that the dirty fossil fuel industry has enjoyed the last 100 years, and continues to enjoy, and dirty republican liars like this crook Trump, block clean renewable energy, because they are in the pockets of our dirty fossil fuel industry.

SEND