Dakota Access spilled 84 gallons of crude last month ahead of start-up

Hundreds of miles of pipe, each about 30 inches in diameter by 100 feet long, sit in storage in Newton as photographed on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Hundreds of miles of pipe, each about 30 inches in diameter by 100 feet long, sit in storage in Newton as photographed on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

NEW YORK — The controversial Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of crude oil at a pump station in South Dakota last month, according to state documents, just weeks before the pipeline is set to start commercial service.

The spill, the equivalent of 2 barrels of oil, happened on April 4 in Tulare township in Spink County, according to the state’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources.

After the spill was reported, recovered oil was put back into the system. Any gravel or soil that had oil was cleaned and disposed of, said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the agency.

The leak occurred some 100 miles (160 km) east of Lake Oahe, a part of the Missouri River system that has been the focal point of protests by environmentalists and Native Americans.

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access line runs from western North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it will link up with another pipeline to bring shale oil from North Dakota’s Bakken play to the Gulf Coast.

The $3.8 billion project drew worldwide attention after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said the pipeline would desecrate a sacred burial ground and that any oil leak would poison the tribe’s water supply.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind construction of the pipeline, received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in early February after months of delays. It is currently line filling and will be in service on June 1.

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A company spokeswoman said that the spill occurred during the pipeline’s commissioning activities. She added that the spill occurred in a containment area, so there was no impact on the wider area.

(Reporting by Catherine Ngai; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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