Dakota Access Pipeline’s First Oil Spill Will Be One of Many to Come

It recently came to light that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline experienced a leak in April. Though the incident involved only 84 gallons -– a relatively small amount by oil pipeline spill standards –- it certainly casts doubt on the safety of the DAPL project as a whole.

On behalf of South Dakota’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Brian Walsh stated that the leak was essentially anticipated. Additionally, the state remains content with the way the spill was handled and will not level fines against the pipeline’s developer.

Unsurprisingly, a spokesperson for DAPL developer Energy Transfer Partners issued a statement in an attempt to reassure the public that the pipeline is safe and the spill was dealt with “as designed.”

These attitudes — that view oil spills as routine and negligible — are concerning, to say the least.

Dave Archambault, a chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, claims this recent incident, though minor, is indicative of a future crisis: “These spills are going to be nonstop.” The tribe has been engaged in an ongoing lawsuit against the developer of DAPL over such concerns.

Though pipeline construction was halted last year after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its intention to evaluate the project’s safety, President Donald Trump has since urged development to resume.

It should speak volumes that the DAPL oil spill has been brushed off as inconsequential and treated as an eventuality. This does not paint the picture of a venture that prioritizes safety and responsibility. Instead, the incident reveals quite plainly the sole priorities at work here: enabling the increasingly outmoded fossil fuel industry in the name of profit — without regard to environmental costs.

Last year Keystone XL, another highly controversial multi-state oil pipeline, sprung a massive leak in North Dakota — just 200 miles from Standing Rock, the epicenter for the tribal protests against DAPL. Originally, it was reported that 176,000 gallons of oil were spilled; later this estimate increased to 540,000 gallons. The spilled oil ended up contaminating a nearby tributary to the Little Missouri River.

Given that the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines will eventually run at full capacity, it would seem unlikely that we will merely witness small-scale spills going forward.

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann/Flickr


Telica R
Telica Rabout a year ago

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Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 years ago

An oil spill anywhere is one too many.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O1 years ago


Misss D
Shari F1 years ago

'The rich do not get to put the rest of us Americans in bad health for a [sic] companies bottom line.' Actually, they do, Vivianne Mosca-Clark. That is what happens when voters elect Trump....

Emma Z
Past Member 1 years ago

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william Miller1 years ago


ANA MARIJA R1 years ago

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Kalliope M
Past Member 1 years ago

84 gallons are 84 gallons - in any case it is needless and superfluent! They should drop this despiceable pipeline building(s) as well as leave all the fossil fuels in the ground and invest instead in renewable and sustainable energy projects. That would be responsible and not further harm climate, environment, wildlife and humans at all!