Activists opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) seized upon a small oil spill near the multi-state project Wednesday to support their belief that the line will poison water.
DAPL leaked 84 gallons of crude oil at a pump station in South Dakota last month, according to state documents. Activists with Standing Rock Sioux believe the “relatively small” leak illustrates what they have been fighting for months.
The pipeline leaked the equivalent of two barrels of oil on April 4 in South Dakota, according to South Dakota’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the $3.8 billion pipeline, first reported the spill in April, but it wasn’t widely reported until earlier this month. The spill was quickly cleaned up and nothing leached into any nearby water sources.
“It was immediately contained and cleaned up,” said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist at South Dakota’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Activists were not placated.
“This just proves their hastiness is fueled by greed not in the best interest for tribes or the Dakotas,” Joye Braun, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux, said in a statement Wednesday. Braun’s group, which is opposed to DAPL, filed a lawsuit against the line earlier this year.
“Do we have more spills just waiting to happen? This is our home, our land and our water,” Braun added.
The project drew the ire of protesters and local Native American tribes such as the Standing Rock Sioux, whose members sued to block completion of a small section of the line near the reservation. Activists believe the pipeline’s construction trampled on tribal lands and could poison the tribe’s waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
“This is what we have said all along: oil pipelines leak and spill,” Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement about the spill. Archambault II has been one of the point-men behind opposition to the project.
Analysts argue, meanwhile, that the spill almost certainly would not have been covered in past years.
Brigham McCown, a former Bush-era pipeline regulator, for instance, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “It’s not unusual to see minor releases at pump and valve stations as product flows for the first time.”
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