Running out of time for DAPL protest camp cleanup

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CANNON BALL, N.D. - State officials say protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps are running out of time. Many are worried the camps won't be cleaned up before spring flooding occurs.

State officials are calling these campsites a potential environmental disaster.

Human waste, in addition to other material refuse, are a threat to the nearby rivers if not cleaned up before flooding occurs.

And with rising temperatures, it's going to be a hassle.

"With 50 degree weather, it's going to be a challenge to get in there. Not only with the melting snow, but it's going to be muddy. It's going to be tough to get trucks in there," said David Glatt, section chief of the Environmental Health Section.

The North Dakota State Health Department is just one state entity monitoring the DAPL protest camps.

Gov. Doug Burgum said on Monday that the situation is "growing increasingly unsafe by the day," and "immediate action is needed to protect human life and prevent any further pollution of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers."

There are numerous abandoned vehicles at the campsite - a potential for leaking oil and fluids.

"Since they've been here, they've been hauling them away to the local salvage company. Campers that are knowledgeable of mechanics, they've been getting them fixed," said Jeff McLaughlin Sr., volunteer.

The health department's main focus is to get garbage cleared out as quickly as possible.

"That's what everyone is working toward right now is to get that material off of the floodplain as quickly as possible, so we don't have to worry about any water contamination or people being exposed to that," said Glatt.

Glatt says the department will continue to monitor and assess the quality of the rivers.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Wednesday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have a crew onsite by the end of this week to assist in cleaning up the camps.