(Updates with statement from Energy Transfer Partners in
By Timothy Mclaughlin
March 21 South Dakota authorities are
investigating an act of vandalism at the Dakota Access pipeline,
a day after the project owner said oil could begin flowing
through the pipeline soon, officials said on Tuesday.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office was alerted on Friday to
a small crack near a valve site on a stretch of the pipeline
outside Canton, South Dakota, 25 miles (40 km) southeast of
Sioux Falls, Lincoln County Chief Deputy Chad Brown said by
"It was definitely intentional, it wasn’t from the pipe
flexing or anything like that," Brown said.
The state Department of Criminal Investigations was
investigating the incident as an act of "felony vandalism," said
Sara Rabern, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney general.
Energy Transfer Partners LP, according to court
documents filed on Monday, believes oil could begin flowing
through the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline as early as this
The documents cited "coordinated physical attacks along the
pipeline," but there were no details provided on where the
incidents took place, and many of the documents are sealed. The
attacks would not affect preparations for the start of
operations, the documents said.
"I am not commenting beyond the information in the filing
that was made last night," Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman
Vicki Granado said in an email to Reuters.
In neighboring North Dakota, on Tuesday, a stretch of
highway closed by months of protests against the pipeline was to
reopen, officials said.
Traffic would be allowed on Highway 1806 from Fort Rice,
south of Mandan in the state's southwest, to the Cannonball
Bridge near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation starting at
noon, the Morton County Sheriff's Department and North Dakota
Highway Patrol said in a statement.
The nearly 9-mile (14-km) stretch of highway was closed in
October when Native Americans and environmental activists
descended on the area in an effort to force the rerouting of the
multibillion-dollar pipeline away from a lake upstream from the
The demonstrators said the pipeline could pollute water
supplies and destroy sacred tribal sites. Backwater Bridge was
the site of clashes between law enforcement and protesters and
barricades were erected on it to keep protesters from reaching
the site of the pipeline.
Law enforcement swept through the protest camp late last
month, clearing the remaining protesters.
Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a request by a
Native American tribe for an emergency injunction to prevent oil
flowing through part of the pipeline, saying such a move would
be against the public interest.
(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Dan
Grebler and Peter Cooney)