Monday, December 19, 2016
Is The Threat Of The Dakota Access Pipeline Real?
As I watched friends getting arrested in nonviolent demonstrations, I had so many questions ― does this pipeline really pose a threat to land and water? With the controversy over the recent denial of the permit to cross the Missouri River at Standing Rock, and the requirement for the pipeline to undergo an environmental review, and with the prospects of efforts to build new pipelines after the Trump administration takes office, answering this question is as important now as ever. My suspicion was that pipeline accidents are rare, but as I investigated, I found that they actually happen all the time. As shown in the mapstory I produced above, in the last 30 years, there have been over 8,700 liquid pipeline spills, averaging nearly one every day. One, in fact, happened recently only 150 miles from Standing Rock, where over 4,200 barrels (180,000 gallons) spilled into a river. Many pipelines carry hazardous liquids like crude oil, which are hard or impossible to clean up, and some carry compressed gases, which evaporate when leaked, but can still cause ecological harm. Everything from equipment failures to bad weather to accidents can cause a spill, and they have indeed destroyed farms, and polluted rivers and ground. The likelihood of an accident is something oil companies concede ― when the Keystone XL pipeline was proposed in 2011, the pipeline company estimated that there would be a likelihood of 11 significant spills (over 50 barrels) over its 50-year lifetime...more