Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

At the Native Nations march in Washington, D.C. in March. (Photo: United Church of Christ/Jessie Palatucci)

The 'Told You So' Everyone Was Dreading—First DAPL Spill Reported

"We have always said it's not if, but when, pipelines leak"

Deirdre Fulton

Throughout the battle over the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), Indigenous campaigners and their allies repeatedly warned it was not a question of if, but when a breach would occur.

Now, before the pipeline is even fully operational, those warnings have come to fruition.

The Associated Press reports Wednesday:

The Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota early last month, which an American Indian tribe says bolsters its argument that the pipeline jeopardizes its water supply and deserves further environmental review.

The April 4 spill was relatively small and was quickly cleaned up, and it didn't threaten any waterways. The state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources posted a report in its website's searchable database, but it didn't take any other steps to announce it to the public, despite an ongoing lawsuit by four Sioux tribes seeking to shut down the pipeline.

"At the pipeline's pump station there's what's called a surge tank, which is used to store crude oil occasionally during the regular operation of the pipeline," Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources Ground Water Quality Program, told Dakota Media Group. "And connected to that tank is a pump, which pumps oil back into the pipeline system, and the leak occurred at that surge pump."

The pipeline operated by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is expected to be in service by June 1.

"As far as this happening during the start-up, I don't want to make it sound like a major event, but the fact that you had oil leaving the tank says there's something not right with their procedures," longtime pipeline infrastructure expert Richard B. Kuprewicz said to Dakota Media Group. "They might have been trying to hurry."

Joye Braun, of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe (one of those still engaged in a legal battle to shut down the pipeline), cited Kuprewicz when explaining why the news was so concerning.

"This leak hits close to home, my home," Braun said. "We have always said it's not if, but when, pipelines leak, and to have someone like Richard B. Kuprewicz—a pipeline infrastructure expert and incident investigator with more than 40 years of energy industry experience—question the integrity and building practices of Dakota Access says something pretty serious could go wrong."

"That worries me," she continued. "South Dakota already faces water shortages and our livelihoods depend on water, from ranching and farming to healthcare. Do we have more spills just waiting to happen? This is our home, our land, and our water. This just proves their hastiness is fueled by greed not in the best interest for tribes or the Dakotas."

News from elsewhere in the country this week hardly helps ETP's case.

Following two spills of millions of gallons of drilling fluids into Ohio wetlands last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has "curtailed work" on ETP's Rover gas pipeline, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. 

After the spills and 18 reported leaks, the Post reported, FERC

blocked Energy Transfer Partners, which also built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, from starting horizontal drilling in eight areas where drilling has not yet begun. In other areas, where the company has already begun horizontal drilling, the FERC said drilling could continue.

The FERC also ordered the company to double the number of environmental inspectors and to preserve documents the commission wants to examine as it investigates the spills.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week fined ETP $430,000 for damaging the wetland, which an agency spokesman has said "will likely not recover to its previous condition for decades."

Responding to the South Dakota incident, Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said, "We fear more spills will come to bear, which is an all too frequent situation with Energy Transfer Partners pipeline projects. As such, eyes of the world are watching and will keep Dakota Access and Energy Transfer Partners accountable."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo