Pipeline company reports 'physical attacks' along route as oil set to flow


Vandals have allegedly burned sections of the Dakota Access Pipeline in South Dakota and Iowa in recent incidents, authorities in those states said Tuesday.

The developer said there was vandalism to aboveground portions of the pipe at shut-off valve sites in South Dakota and Iowa, it confirmed to The Associated Press yesterday (March 21).

In a court-ordered status report filed Monday, attorneys for Dakota Access write there have been "recent coordinated physical attacks ... that pose threats to life, physical safety, and the environment". The vandalism was discovered March 13. State officials in IL didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jay O'Hara with the Climate Disobedience Center told the AP that Climate Direct Action wasn't involved in any attacks against the pipeline, and he wasn't aware of anyone claiming responsibility.

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This group has coordinated direct actions against pipelines in the past, also at shut-off valve sites.

With oil expected to flow through the contested area of the Dakota Access Pipeline this week, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe launched a new fundraising effort to continue its legal fight.

Mahaska County Sheriff Russ Van Renterghem said someone used a blowtorch to cut a hole through the 5/8-inch thick pipe.

"I've done a little digging and I absolutely don't know who it was", Mr. O'Hara said.

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The tribes have challenged an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg not to stop final construction of the pipeline, and they wanted the appeals court to halt any oil flow until that's resolved.

The 1,172-mile pipeline crosses North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and IL.

"The hypocrisy really lies in the pipeline corporations who say their pipelines are safe, say leaks don't happen", he said to the AP.

The highway, which closed in late October following Dakota Access Pipeline protests, has been reopening in phases. The company didn't provide further details, including the locations of the attacks, and ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado on Tuesday declined comment. The camps of self-proclaimed "water protectors" have largely cleared, lowering the chance for more of the large-scale protests in North Dakota, where police and demonstrators had clashed repeatedly since last summer.

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No attacks on the line in North Dakota have been reported so far, according to Morton Country sheriff's office spokesman Rob Keller.