Records Show History of Safety Violations for Dakota Access Pipeline Company

November 22, 2016 12:06 PM

Energy Transfer Partners says the Dakota Access pipeline would move about a half a million barrels of crude oil each day almost 1,200 miles from the Bakken Oil Fields in northwest North Dakota to Illinois.

Watch Part 1 of Oil and Water: The Dakota Access Pipeline


But plans for it to tunnel under the Missouri River in North Dakota have alarmed nearby Native American tribes and environmentalists.

Watch Part 2 of Oil and Water: The Dakota Access Pipeline

We searched through federal and state records to learn more about Energy Transfer Partners.

The records show the company has lost at least 18,845 barrels of crude oil through pipeline spills across the country since 2005.

And since 2010, the government has fined the company and its subsidiaries more than $22 million for environmental and other violations.

"Do accidents happen? Yes. What do we do when accidents happen? We fix them,” North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said.

Energy Transfer Partners turned down our request for an interview.

Pipeline supporters point out that some leaks are caused by factors out of the company’s control. They also state that pipelines are still generally seen as safer than moving oil by trucks or trains.

“Under the river is probably the safest place for this pipeline,” Ness said.

Energy Transfer Partners say its subsidiary, Sunoco Logistics, would operate the Dakota Access pipeline.

Federal records show no company has had more hazardous materials leak in the past decade than Sunoco Logistic. There have been 274 incidents.

For comparison, the second company on that list had 18 fewer incidents, but operates more than four times the miles of pipeline.

Energy Transfer’s incidents include an explosion after one of its natural gas pipelines ruptured in Texas.

And, Sunoco Logistics' pipeline leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a Pennsylvania creek after a landslide triggered by a flood.

Protesters in the Twin Cities and in North Dakota are decrying the company’s plan to tunnel under the Missouri River.

“We protect our land, we protect our water,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.

It’s a movement most important to the people who live just down river on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

This week, federal officials ordered construction to stop so they can reassess the tribe’s environmental concerns.

Energy Transfer’s attorneys pushed back saying construction should be allowed to continue. They said the company has already lost $450 million because of delays.

“They followed the rules and met the requirements under the law to receive the permit,” said North Dakota Public Service Commission Chairperson Julie Fedorachak.

Fedorchak says state leaders considered the company’s safety record before approving the project and were satisfied with its safety plans including tunneling  the pipeline about 90 feet below the bed of the Missouri River.

“Really, the pipe never comes in contact with the river,” Fedorchak said. “It never touches the water.”


Matt Belanger

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