February 16, 2017
The risk of environmental destruction due to waste, trash, and vehicles left behind by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters is now so grave that North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed an emergency evacuation order for the area on Wednesday night. Protesters who continue to “unlawfully occupy” the protest camps must leave so that “insufficient” cleanup efforts can be “quickly accelerated.”
The executive order stated that “months of accumulated debris, including human waste … abandoned vehicles and unlawful temporary and permanent dwelling structures … has created significant health and public safety risks as well as environmental hazards.”
CNSNews.com reported last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must shut down and remediate Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps to avoid “significant environmental damage” from the protestors’ trash, debris, and untreated waste.
On Tuesday, Western Wire reported that the North Dakota Towing Association is working 24 hours a day to remove roughly 200 vehicles left behind by pipeline protestors before seasonal floods sweep the cars and trucks into the Missouri River.
“We can’t leave them there,” North Dakota Towing Association Vice President George Kuntz told Western Wire. “We don’t know what kind of biohazard is going to be produced with all the fluids or any other garbage that’s inside the vehicle.”
“How do you just totally destroy something?” Kuntz asked. “How do you not care about something that you are here saying that you care about?”
He noted that “out-of-state people” who were recruited by national activist groups caused most of the environmental damage.
Kuntz urged all vehicle owners to return to the site and remove them, and added that the sheer number of abandoned vehicles could “overwhelm” the towing industry’s ability to move them in time, as doing so will require “heavy equipment” beyond the standard tow truck.
“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.
Rob Keller, public information officer for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department informed Western Wire that at least one vehicle has already been found in the water. “You’ve got oil leaking out, you’ve got gas,” he said.
“You talk about wanting to protect the water,” Keller continued, “and yet not a lot of people are staying around to clean up what they started.”