Health

The major health concerns regarding the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline have to do with the fact that the pipeline would be built under the Missouri River, and potentially contaminate the only source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.[1] In 2010, a report from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, found that major oil spills are associated with “increased incidences of cancer and digestive problems in people who had ingested the oil directly (in drinking water) or indirectly (through eating the meat of livestock exposed to the oil.”[2] The contaminated water can also lead to “a higher incidence of skin problems, ranging from mild rashes to sever and lasting eczema and malignant skin cancers.”[3]

Gruenke, Jonathon, Kalamazoo Gazette, "Raul Vervuzco of Eagle Services uses a suction hose to clean oil from atop the Kalamazoo River Wednesday afternoon in a containment area in Augusta," Image Link.
Gruenke, Jonathon, Kalamazoo Gazette, “Raul Vervuzco of Eagle Services uses a suction hose to clean oil from atop the Kalamazoo River Wednesday afternoon in a containment area in Augusta,” Image Link.

We saw these affects to be the case in the Kalamazoo River spill as the health of many Native American tribes, as well as other residents, were impacted by the 2010 spill.[4] About 819, 000 gallons of crude oil were spilled into the Kalamazoo River from the Enbridge pipeline that “transported Cold Lake Crude Oil (with benzene diluent) from western Canada to refineries in Michigan and Ohio.”[5] One of the main goals of the EPA and response teams after the spill was the “protection of the public health.”[6] Many concerns about air quality resulted in a “voluntary evacuation of residential areas along the most heavily impacted of the Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River.”[7] Additionally, drinking water advisories were issued as the oil-related contamination posed a threat to the safety of the water.[8] These oil-related health impacts due to contamination of water sources from the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill, relate to why so many Native Americans are fighting the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline now.

 


 

[1] Brodwin, Erin, “People at the front lines of the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline are calling it a ‘death sentence’,” Business Insider, 1 November 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ralf Dollhopf & Mark Durno, “Kalamazoo River\Enbridge Pipeline Spill 2010,” 2011 International Oil Spill Conference, 17 March 2011, 1.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 6.

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] Ibid, 6.