In a twist of supreme irony, the radical left-wing activists who protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) near Native American land because of its alleged environmental threat have themselves created an environmental crisis.
On Wednesday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed an emergency evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp, close to the Standing Rock Lakota reservation.
“Gov. Doug Burgum today signed an emergency evacuation order out of concern for the safety of people who are residing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land in southern Morton County and to avoid an ecological disaster to the Missouri River,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
“Warm temperatures have accelerated snowmelt in the area of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp … Due to these conditions, the governor’s emergency order addresses safety concerns to human life as anyone in the floodplain is at risk for possible injury or death,” said the statement.
However, “the order also addresses the need to protect the Missouri River from the waste that will flow into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe if the camp is not cleared and the cleanup expedited,” the statement read.
The activists first descended on the land in April 2016 to protest the pipeline’s construction. Chief among their concerns was the effect a potential leak or spill could have on nearby waterways, especially the Missouri River. But the very river they sought to protect has been endangered by their actions.
“With the amount of people that have been out there and the amount of estimated waste and trash out there, there is a good chance it will end up in the river if it is not cleaned up,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Capt. Ryan Hignight told the Associated Press Wednesday.
Just how much waste and trash did the environmentally conscious DAPL protesters leave? “Local and federal officials estimate there’s enough trash and debris in the camp to fill about 2,500 pickup trucks,” reported AP.
“Garbage ranges from trash to building debris to human waste, according to Morton County Emergency Manager Tom Doering,” the AP report continued. In addition to rubbish and excrement, there are also a lot of abandoned cars at the site.
“There are roughly 200 vehicles down there at last count, ranging from cars and pickups to rental trucks,” George Kuntz, vice president of the North Dakota Towing Association, said in an interview with Western Wire.
“We’re going to have a very drastic situation trying to keep these vehicles from getting into the river — what everybody’s been trying to protect from Day One,” he said
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