Cultural site discovered along DAPL route, pipeline rerouted

Published: Nov. 2, 2016 at 3:00 PM CDT
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As the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy has played out over the past few months, there have been cases where one side accuses the other of not telling the truth about what's going on.

Members of the Public Service Commission say Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, hasn't been transparent in their communications. It turns out a site of cultural significance was found along the pipeline route, but the PSC says Energy Transfer Partners waited 10 days to say anything about it.

The site, which contained rock cairns, was successfully preserved by a route adjustment to the pipeline, but the Public Service Commission isn't satisfied with the way the company handled it.

Members of the agency who approved the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline aren't happy with the company building it.

"I was really extremely disappointed that the company failed to notify us about this when it happened," says Julie Fedorchak, PSC.

Energy Transfer Partners discovered sites deemed significant to Native American culture on October 17. The site found was described as a stone cairns feature, which could represent a number of things from a commemorative event, a trail marking or - in a small amount of cases - human remains.

The company notified the State Historic Preservation Office and rerouted the pipeline to preserve the sites.

"An avoidance corridor was mapped and avoidance of the cultural resources was achieved," says Paul Picha, SHPO.

But Energy Transfer Partners did not notify the Public Service Commission for 10 days. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says this shows a lack of transparency.

"This trust demands an exchange and full and prompt disclosure of key information. And that was neglected in this case," says Fedorchak

Dave Archambault's communication team says they do not have a statement at this time.

The Public Service Commission has instructed staff to research and file a complaint. Penalties could lead to fines of up to $10,000 per day of violations.

In a statement sent via email, Dakota Access says

"All the proper procedures were followed,"

in accordance with the pipeline permit.