As the battle to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline kicks up a notch, news of yet another water body contaminated by an oil spill — this one just 200 miles from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — reinforces the legitimacy of the movement to protect water from Big Oil.
Belle Fourche Pipeline Company shut down its six-inch crude pipeline after oil leaked into Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County, in western North Dakota, not geographically distant from where the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of water protectors are enduring deteriorating winter conditions in camps near the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir.
“A series of booms have been placed across the creek to prevent downstream migration and a siphon dam has been constructed 4 miles downstream of the release point,” said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health, reportedthe Duluth News Tribune on Tuesday.
According to the Bismarck Tribune, the state’s Department of Health sentinvestigators to the scene on Monday and Tuesday as frigid temperatures, high winds, and wintry conditions gripped the area, in an attempt “to contain an oil pipeline spill that has impacted about 2.5 miles of the Ash Coulee Creek and a tributary creek in the badlands.”
Ash Coulee Creek empties into the Little Missouri River 20 miles from where the leak occurred — but officials claimed they ‘doubt’ spilled crude would extend that far.
No estimates of the volume or impact of the crude spill have been announced as this article goes to publication, but any contamination with toxic crude can have devastating impacts on sensitive ecosystems— particularly if the spill isn’t contained hastily.
Oil, gas, and pipeline companies insist pipelines are the safest means — versus rail, boat, and tanker truck — to transport crude and other petroleum types. While this might be technically true, regulatory inadequacies, aging infrastructure, and other issues indicate otherwise.