By Alexa Erickson
The news that the US Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement in North Dakota for the Dakota Access Pipeline devastated people around the world, as it gave the green light to move toward completion.
Recent news will only infuriate environmentalists even further, as the energy company behind DAPL reported hundreds of thousands of gallons of spills from pipelines between 2015 and 2016.
The Feb. 6 report from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and DisasterMap.net reveals that Energy Transfer Partners had 2.8 accidents every month. The analysis said that “these are just the accidents that are reported.”
According to the report, there were 42 known oil spills, 11 natural gas spills, nine gasoline spills, three propane spills, two “other” spills, and two “unknown” spills. Of these incidents, there were eight injuries reported, five evacuations, and $300,000 in damages.
“Heavy rain was the explanation for some of the worst accidents. Bad weather, however, just exposes faulty equipment,” the report explains. “While Energy Transfer Partners and other companies portray weather related accidents as unavoidable, they are in reality a result of poor planning and neglected maintenance. For example, the largest tank fire in history happened in south Louisiana in 2001. Because it occurred during a storm, Orion Refining blamed the weather. In truth, a faulty drain on the tank sank the roof, exposed the gasoline and attracted lightening.”
Pipeline supporters claim they are far safer than tankers or trains, but that argument doesn’t hold up well against the fact that 51% of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco’s reported spills were from pipelines.
Environmentalists have been actively against DAPL, and this recent report seems to support their concerns regarding pipelines in general. Louisiana Bucket Brigade also posted on its Facebook page that the 35-pipeline-related spills released 111,559 gallons of oil and polluted rivers in four different states.
One of the biggest arguments regarding the completion of DAPL was the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s concerns of their drinking water resources becoming subject to contamination. The recent report revealed the spills polluted three drinking water sources — the Delaware River (Pennsylvania, New Jersey), The Schuylkill River (Pennsylvania), and the Red River (Louisiana), giving weight to the tribe’s worries.
But DAPL isn’t the only controversial pipeline currently in the works under Energy Transfer Partners. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is fighting against the construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, a Energy Transfer Partners 162-mile pipeline operation. If it moves forward, it could cut through “the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country,” as it transfers oil from Nederland, Texas, to St. James Parish, Louisiana, polluting major bodies of water and valuable ecological sites.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of all of this is, despite the facts of poor safety and frequent spills, Energy Transfer Partners seems focused on making money more than anything else — no matter the people, the land, or the wildlife affected.
“Energy Transfer Partners’ records contradict their claim that pipelines are a safer way of transporting oil,” explains Renate Heurich of 350 Louisiana. “Pipelines make transporting tar sands cheaper, thus stimulating dirty tar sands extraction despite low oil prices. The real question is: Why do we still invest in more pipeline infrastructure when we urgently need to invest in sustainable alternative energy sources?”