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  • Messages of support adorn the side of a tipi inside of the Oceti Sakowin camp as water protectors continue to protest against the Dakota Access pipeline.

    Messages of support adorn the side of a tipi inside of the Oceti Sakowin camp as water protectors continue to protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 December 2016

An undetermined amount of crude oil was spilled and leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County.

A crude oil pipeline was shut down in western North Dakota following a leak that spilled oil into a nearby creek as Native Americans, water protectors and environmentalists camped 200 miles away at the Dakota Access pipeline project site over concerns a leak there could contaminate the water supply.

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The leak that prompted the shutdown was discovered in a 6-inch pipeline operated by Belle Fourche Pipeline Company, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.

An undetermined amount of crude oil was spilled and leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County.

"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," Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health, said.

Since 2011, the Belle Fourche Pipeline has had 10 reported spills, totaling 4,848 barrels and US$2.26 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.

The federal agency has also issued six warning letters to the pipeline company regarding integrity issues and safety procedures.

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The news came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided Sunday to deny the route for the Dakota Access pipeline that passes through Native American lands in North Dakota, handing a major victory to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe after months of protests that gained national and international solidarity.

The latest leak nearby proves that the concerns of local Indigenous groups and environmentalists are well-founded as they argue that the US$3.8 billion pipeline could be disastrous for local water sources.

The action against the Dakota Access pipeline has attracted more than 300 Native American tribes from across the United States in a show of unity that is being called historic.

The protesters, who were also joined by thousands of U.S. military veterans last week, said the pipeline would damage burial sites considered sacred.


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