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Victory? Public outrage may force Feds to revisit approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline

(NaturalNews) Those who are opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project may soon be able to declare a victory in their battle to stop its construction.

As reported by Common Dreams, an independent pipeline expert says that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' environmental assessment of the DAPL is not sufficient, and fails to take into account the impact on tribal members.

That conclusion has prompted members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to demand that the federal agency "revisit" its approval of the DAPL, which has always been, and remains, controversial.

The review was commissioned by the tribe, which does open it up to criticism by backers of the pipeline project who see it as another way to wean the U.S. off energy resources in volatile parts of the world.

Several problems found

That said, the report by Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline engineer with the consulting firm Accufacts, Inc., noted that the Corps' environmental assessment "understates the risk of pipeline failure and related oil release from this pipeline impacting Lake Oahe and the Missouri River."

The non-profit legal group representing the tribe, Earthjustice, also laid out additional "areas of deficiency" that were identified by the review. They include:

-- Shoddy construction of the pipeline

-- Underestimation of the risk to the pipeline posed by landslides

-- Did not review impact to residents and the environment downstream of the pipeline site

-- Lack of adequate safety measures to contain spills

-- Did not provide a risk review of industry spills and containment procedures at other sites that show problematic oversight of the industry in the state of North Dakota, where construction efforts are currently underway

Standing Rock Sioux chairman, Dave Archambault II, in a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, presented Kuprewicz's findings – findings that were in conflict with the Corps' conclusion that allowing the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe "will not affect members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe or the Tribal reservation."

'If it's safe to build on Sioux land, why isn't it safe to build upstream?'

He noted that the review emphasized one of the major problems with the Corps' final environmental assessment – assuming, without a legitimate reason to do so, that putting the massive pipeline just upstream from the Reservation comes without risk to the tribe.

As such, the independent assessment's findings "reflect the common sense point" that was not featured in the final environmental analysis, namely, that pipelines can leak, and that often when they do, they produce "devastating consequences" in the form of water and soil pollution.

"This raises the question," Archambault went on, "If the Dakota Access Pipeline is so safe that it presents no risk at all" when located very near the tribe, "why isn't the pipeline safe enough to cross the river north of Bismarck, as originally proposed?" He continued by saying that the final environmental assessment does not explain that.

Jan Hasselman, the Earthjustice staff attorney representing the tribe, said that the law requires there to be a "full and transparent analysis" of risks including oil spills before a federal permit can be issued for construction. But, she said, "it's clear that never happened here."

Archambault further noted that there are plenty of examples in the public record of pipeline leaks and failures. In recent weeks, for example, there was a pipeline explosion in Alabama that killed one person, and leaks in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, which discharged crude oil and gasoline into the environment.

Common Dreams noted that data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration revealed that, on average, there are more than 59 oil spills that occur annually, with the average amount of oil spilled surpassing 47,000 barrels. In North Dakota alone, there were 1,238 spills of oil or oilfield wastewater between July 27, 2015 and July 25, 2016.

With this new analysis, it could be that there is enough momentum opposing the construction to stall it for good. Time will tell.






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