Releasing information about a possible Dakota Access Pipeline spill could pose a serious threat to local citizens, according to the agency responsible for approving the contentious oil project.
Army Corps of Engineers rejected a Freedom of Information request earlier this month for the assessment report on the potential environmental impact of a spill, digital media group MuckRock reported Tuesday. The agency rejected the request out of concern for people.
“I am withholding the requested document in its entirety,” Army Corps District Council Damon Roberts told MuckRock in response to the request. “The referenced document contains information related to sensitive infrastructure that if misused could endanger peoples’ lives and property.”
Army Corps’ comments come as activists continue to push for more information about possible oil spills from the so-called DAPL.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg decided in March that the company behind the project could hide information about leak points at areas along its route. He argued the exception was necessary to prevent possible acts of vandalism in the future.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other DAPL opponents believe information disclosing the route’s leak points could bolster their arguments that the line needs further environmental studies. The project will shuttle 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil from the Dakotas to parts of Illinois.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, has already “modified the pipeline workspace and route more than a hundred times in response to cultural surveys and Tribes’ concerns regarding historic and cultural resources,” Boasberg wrote, referring to the analysis that went into an environmental impact assessment the Army Corps of Engineers conducted prior to approving the line.
Law enforcement officials investigated two separate incidents in March of vandalism in Iowa and South Dakota involving holes torched in sections of the multi-billion-dollar line, which officially started shuttling oil earlier this month.
A small hole was burned into the pipe at an unguarded valve site in South Dakota, Lincoln County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Brown told reporters at the time. Nobody was arrested or punished for the sabotage effort.
Some analysts argue the vandals would have been instantly incinerated had oil been coursing through the line at the time of the torching. More than 600 demonstrators have been arrested throughout the year-long anti-DAPL protests.