Protesters Are Right To Worry About Dakota Access Pipeline Spills

To hear law enforcement officials tell it, the people protesting the Dakota Access pipeline are a bunch of dangerous radicals bent on promoting riots and sedition while trampling (quite literally) on  private lands. But the protesters’ side of the story is that the proposed pipeline is a threat to their access to clean water. They also have some quibbles about the pipeline disturbing ancient burial grounds, too.

pipeline spill in Alabama
Gasoline spill near Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Colonial Pipeline

The Dakota Access pipeline is designed to go underneath the Missouri River. You may have heard of this waterway. It is one of the most important rivers in North America and flows more than 2,300 miles from the Rocky Mountains to the point where it joins the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Pollution in the Missouri River could affect people in these states, acording to Wikipedia:

  •  Montana
  •  North Dakota
  •  South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  •  Kansas
  •  Missouri

The pipeline company says we should all calm down. Fears of spills are begin blown way out of proportion. Oh, really? On October 21, ABC News reported on a 55,000 gallon spill of gasoline into a tributary of the Susquehanna River. The leak sent a plume of gasoline into the Loyalsock Creek in Lycoming County.

A water treatment plant nearby was shut down as a precaution and people were warned about coming in contact with the water. The Susquehanna is one of the principal rivers in Pennsylvania. That pipeline is owned by a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, the same despicable people who have hired private guards with attack dogs to  harass and intimidate the protesters. The leak was blamed on heavy rains that washed out some of the land under the pipeline.

Pipelines are perfectly safe as long as their are no major events like superstorms, heavy rains, high winds, or earthquakes. Hello? Is anyone paying attention to what is happening in the US and around the world when it comes to extreme weather? The question is not if the Dakota Pipeline will rupture beneath the Missouri River and poison a large swath of America, but when will disaster strike?

There are more than 185,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in the US. Leaks and spills are almost a daily occurrence. Amanda Starbuck from the Center For Effective Government tells CounterCurrent News, “Since 2010, over 3,300 incidents of crude oil and liquefied natural gas leaks or ruptures have occurred on U.S. pipelines. These incidents have killed 80 people, injured 389 more, and cost $2.8 billion in damages. They also released toxic, polluting chemicals in local soil, waterways, and air.”

In September, a 36″ pipeline carrying gasoline to the East Coast ruptured near Birmingham, Alabama. That led to 300,000 gallons of gasoline being released into the environment. Did you hear about the spill? Probably not. Mainstream media are petrified of offending the fossil fuel industry, which pays for millions of dollars in media advertising every month. All most people heard about how there might be a shortage of gasoline down at the local Pump ‘N’ Pay for a while and that gas prices might spike as a result.

Oh, horror of horrors! Americans might have to pay more for gasoline!!! Call your congressman. Write a letter to the local newspaper protesting this outrage! Americans have a God given right to drive two and half ton vehicles and fill them up with cheap gas. It’s in the Constitution — somewhere. Not a word of the damage to the environment appeared in any newspapers or on any local television stations. You have to be a regular reader of Planet Save or Gas2 to know it happened at all.

The Native Americans protesting the building of the Dakota Access pipeline are not only protecting their own interests. They are trying to protect all Americans from the ravages the fossil fuel industry is only too happy to visit upon us if there is a buck to be made. We cannot continue to use our country as a cesspool for industry to dump its waste products into indefinitely. Cesspools have limits to their capacity. When our country begins to overflow with waste products, it will be too late to bemoan our lack of foresight.

Source: CounterCurrent News




About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

  • carmen33

    “protect clean water” “water is life”