Environmentalists say their "worst fears" have been confirmed, with the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline getting caught producing two major spills in its latest project, just one month after construction started.
The Rover Pipeline will ultimately carry natural gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Canada, crossing three major rivers in its path – but these latest incidents have caused millions of gallons of drilling fluids to flow into Ohio's wetlands.
On 13 April 2017, 7.6 million litres (2 million gallons) of drilling fluids were detected spilling into a wetland next to the Tuscarawas River in Stark County by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The drilling fluids covered an estimated 46,000 square metres (500,000 square foot) area of the wetlands and had "impacted water quality".
Spokesperson Alexis Daniel told Bloomberg that the spills wouldn't change the timeline of the US $4.2 billion pipeline, which is scheduled to be completed November 2017. "Once the incidents were noted, we immediately began containment and mitigation and will continue until the issues are completely resolved," she said.
But the Ohio Sierra Club says these early spills are evidence that Energy Transfer Partners aren't properly equipped to construct the pipeline without further environmental damage, and are protesting the continuation of the project.