Earlier this month, an oil pipeline spewed tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the water just around 150 miles from the site of the months-long protest against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.
CNBC reports that more than 176,000 gallons of oil spilled out of the Belle Fourche Pipeline and into the Ash Coulee Creek near the city of Belfield. A landowner discovered the massive spill on December 5.
Although a spokeswoman for True Cos., the Wyoming-based company that operates the pipeline, told the network that the spill was contained within hours of its discovery, she couldn’t say how the electronic equipment meant to monitor for leaks failed to alert them of the spill. Officials aren’t sure how the spill started.
While the company is still assessing the extent of the damage, the spokeswoman said the spill migrated nearly six miles from the creek, which feeds into the Little Missouri River.
True Cos., which represents the companies behind at least three pipelines in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana, has a history of oil spills. Since 2006, the companies have reported 36 spills that dumped a total 320,000 gallons of oil products, according to the Associated Press. In January 2015, a 32,000-gallon spill into the Yellowstone River fouled up the water supply of nearby Glendive, Montana, which forced a temporary shutdown when oil was found in the town’s water supply.
There’s a sick irony to this spill happening shortly after the Army Corps. of Engineers handed a major victory to the Water Protectors, who spent months trying to stop the construction of a pipeline, arguing that a spill would decimate the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s water source. Of course, the company behind DAPL argued its pipeline would be exceedingly safe and would rely on “advanced pipeline technology.”