Dakota Access Pipeline Sabotaged in Several States, Authorities Claim

Mahaska County, IA & Lincoln County, SD – Authorities in both South Dakota and Iowa have confirmed that alleged acts of sabotage against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) are being investigated in both states.

The Associated Press reports:

Authorities in South Dakota and Iowa confirmed Tuesday that someone apparently used a torch to burn a hole through empty sections of the pipeline at aboveground shut-off valve sites.


Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem said the culprit in Iowa appeared to have gotten under a fence around the facility, but Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Brown said the site in South Dakota wasn’t fenced.


The Iowa incident was discovered March 13 and the South Dakota incident Friday [March 17].


Pipeline operators are asked to report security breaches to the National Response Center. Data on the center’s website show no reports from ETP this month.

Burn damage from alleged blowtorch attack on the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa. (Source: Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The reported physical attacks on DAPL infrastructure are part of a wider trend against controversial pipeline projects, shown by the recent increase of guerrilla sabotage actions.

On February 22, Enbridge, a large pipeline company with partial ownership of DAPL, announced that an unknown person had fired shots from a passing vehicle at their Bemidji, Minnesota offices the night before (the offices were empty at the time of the shooting).

Covered windows and visible bullet impacts at Enbridge building in Bemidji, MN on February 23, 2017. (Source: Maggi Stivers/ Forum News Service)

On February 26, 66-year-old James Marker opened fire on construction equipment being used to construct the contested Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline in Florida. Marker also fired several shots into the pipeline itself. Law enforcement gave chase when he fled the scene; after he crashed his truck, sheriff’s deputies shot and killed him.

Bullet holes in the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Florida. (Screenshot from WUFT news video)

Recent, less conventional direct actions against the physical infrastructure of DAPL and other energy projects point to the inherent vulnerability of pipelines, which rely on numerous aboveground pumping stations for operations, maintenance, and safety purposes. Many pumping stations are not staffed by security personnel and often lack a fence.

On October 11, 2016, climate activists simultaneously shut down five different tar sands pipelines near the US-Canada border, stopping the flow of oil through the pipes by physically accessing emergency shut-off valves.

A video produced in December 2015, by Submedia, shows Canadian environmental activists demonstrating how to stop the flow of oil through a pipeline via a pump station:

Last week’s alleged sabotage of the physical pipeline hit the news at the same time that Norwegian financial giant ING announced it was divesting its stake from the $2.5 billion loan financing DAPL.

Activists continue to pursue their goal to take away the pipeline’s financial solvency by convincing investors to withdraw, even as the physical pipeline itself comes closer and closer to being fully operational. The pipeline is not believed to be entirely finished, as witnesses have reported seeing sections of pipe being driven into the DAPL site near the Standing Rock reservation on the edge of the Missouri River.


On Saturday, March 18, a US Appeals Court refused to grant an injunction sought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to stop Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) from operating the Dakota Access Pipeline. A federal case surrounding the pipeline is still ongoing, and federal judge James Boasberg is expected to issue additional rulings sometime in April.

ETP has also recently refused to publicly release information about the pipeline’s status to the public, citing “coordinated physical attacks” as justification for secrecy. The company also seeks to withhold certain safety information, such as plans to respond to oil spills, under the same grounds. While refusing to disclose details, ETP has recently indicated that oil could be flowing through DAPL as soon as this week.

Below is Unicorn Riot's coverage of the #NoDAPL anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle from early summer 2016 to present:

Watch our feature-length documentary, Black Snake Killaz: A #NoDAPL Story

March - May 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 January 2018 May 2018 July 2018 September 2019 July 2020 March 2021 April 2021 July 2021 September 2021 December 2021 July 2022 September 2022

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to help sustain our horizontally-organized, non-profit media organization: supportourworknew

More from Unicorn Riot 🦄