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Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline spill plan

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World Pipelines,

A US federal judge has ordered Energy Transfer Partners to co-ordinate with tribes to create an oil spill response plan for the Dakota Access Pipeline by 1 April, 2018.

The ruling from US District Judge James Boasberg came nearly six months after he ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers’ review of the project, which transports oil from North Dakota near Native American reservations to Illinois, was inadequate before it granted necessary federal permits. The judge also asked Energy Transfer Partners to get input from tribes and get an independent auditor to review easement conditions, regulations for pipeline by 1 April and to submit bi-monthly reports on safety conditions at the Lake Oahe pipeline crossing, the centre of months of anti-pipeline protests last year. The oil spill response plan must cover the stretch of pipe beneath the Missouri River in North Dakota.

Judge Boasberg's order grants a request by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes for additional protections for the river's Lake Oahe reservoir. The tribes draw water from the lake.

Completion of a response plan and additional pipeline monitoring are warranted while the Corps determines the pipeline's impact on the tribes, the judge said in his ruling. He cited in part the spill of 210 000 gal. of oil from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota last month. "Although the court is not suggesting that a similar leak is imminent at Lake Oahe, the fact remains that there is an inherent risk with any pipeline," Boasberg said. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline began moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois in June. Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners maintains the pipeline is safe, and the company and the Corps had argued that tribal requests for additional protections at Lake Oahe were unnecessary or unwarranted.

Boasberg also ruled that the pipeline can continue transporting oil during this time, predicting there is a “significant likelihood” federal regulators will approve the project after that review moves forward.

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