The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources posted
a report stating that the Dakota Access Pipeline had leaked approximately
84 gallons on oil in early April. However, they did not make any announcement
about the spill, despite the ongoing lawsuit filed by four Sioux tribes
looking to shut the project down.
According to Brian Walsh, who works as an environmental scientist for the
Department, they didn’t release a more public statement on the spill
because it didn’t threaten drinking water systems, fisheries or
“We realize Dakota Access gets a lot of attention. We also try to
treat all of our spills in a consistent manner,” Walsh said. “We
treated this as we would treat any other 84-gallon oil spill.”
The leak occurred in the northeast section of the state, approximately
100 miles east of the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir, and
was mostly contained by containment walls and a plastic liner. However,
some gravel will need to be disposed of at a landfill in the area after
it was contaminated by oil. Walsh stated that this leak didn’t come
as a surprise, since similar incidents have occurred with other oil pipelines
in the state.
This leak, while small, simply adds to the ever-growing list of concerns
from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the people who will be most affected
by the new section of pipeline.
“These spills are going to be nonstop,” tribal Chairman Dave
Archambault said. “With 1,200 miles of pipeline, spills are going
to happen. Nobody listened to us. Nobody wants to listen, because they’re
driven by money and greed.”
While speaking on the phone with a reporter from CBS, tribal attorney Jan
Hasselman commented that this leak shows the importance of conducting
additional environmental studies of the pipeline. One was previously planned
by the United States Army Corps of Engineers before the idea was scrapped
when the current United States president pushed to speed up the construction
earlier this year.