INSIGHT-Sunoco, behind protested Dakota pipeline, tops U.S. crude spill charts

Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:31am EDT
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By Liz Hampton

HOUSTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Sunoco Logistics, the future operator of the oil pipeline delayed this month after Native American protests in North Dakota, spills crude more often than any of its competitors with more than 200 leaks since 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

The lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sit a half mile south of the proposed route of the Dakota Access pipeline. The tribe fears the line could destroy sacred sites during construction and that a future oil spill might pollute its drinking water.

A tribal protest over the $3.7 billion project drew broad support from other Native American tribes, domestic and international environmental groups and Hollywood celebrities.

In response to the tribe's objections, the U.S. government earlier this month called for a temporary halt to construction along a section of the 1,100 mile line in North Dakota near the Missouri River.

While environmental concerns are at the heart of the Standing Rock Sioux protest, there is no reference to the frequency of leaks by Sunoco or its parent Energy Transfer Partners in a legal complaint filed by the tribe, nor has Sunoco's spill record informed the public debate on the line.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II told Reuters the tribe was aware of the safety record of Energy Transfer, but declined to elaborate.

Sunoco Logistics is one of the largest pipeline operators in the United States. Energy Transfer is constructing the Dakota Access pipeline to pump crude produced at North Dakota's Bakken shale fields to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Once completed, it will hand over the pipeline's operation to Sunoco.

Sunoco acknowledged the data and told Reuters it had taken measures to reduce its spill rate.   Continued...