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Federal judge orders spill response plan for Dakota Access Pipeline

Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — A federal judge ordered the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday, Dec. 4, to work with two American Indian tribes on an oil spill response plan for the project's Lake Oahe crossing.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg also told Dakota Access, LLC, to, with input from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, select a "third-party independent expert engineering company" to review easement conditions and regulations. He told Dakota Access to submit bi-monthly reports on inspection results, leaks, repairs and other information.

The tribes had requested such conditions in their fight against the pipeline, which runs from western North Dakota to Illinois and was the subject of massive protests before becoming operational this summer. Boasberg declined to stop the oil's flow after sending the Corps back to the drawing board on part of its environmental review.

"The court agrees that each of these measures is appropriately tailored to monitoring the status of the pipeline during remand," he wrote.

Boasberg noted the Keystone Pipeline recently leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota, highlighting a "pressing need for such ongoing monitoring."

The spill response plan and the results of an independent audit are due April 1. The first bi-monthly report must be filed by Dec. 31.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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