Garbage, Human Waste at DAPL Camps Main Concerns of Polluting Missouri River

The garbage isn't the only thing that may make its way to the river and create a negative environmental impact

FARGO, N.D. — Governor Burgum’s concerns for cleaning up at the main pipeline protest camp rise along with the temperatures.

He issued an evacuation order on Wednesday.

He says what protesters have left behind could end up polluting the rivers.

Protesters left their mark on the site of the Dakota Access pipeline.

That area of land floods almost every spring.

It’s a problem that is worrying state leaders because it’s covered in trash.

“Things like trash will break down in the environment eventually and the water will help it break down,” said Paul Sando, an associate professor at MSUM. “As things do break down, they change. The chemical make-ups change and they leech.”

The garbage isn’t the only thing that may make its way to the river.

Human waste is also expected to be in the runoff if the site isn’t cleaned up in time.

“There is always the potential for cholera and other bacteria to pop up,” added Sando. “In those situations, this is one thing we worry about whenever we have flooding in an urban area.”

“There’s a possibility where they just couldn’t deal with it,” said Mark Peterson, the superintendent at Fargo’s water plant. “At that point you may have to bring in trucks of water.”

Both people  said that this can happen no matter what when there’s a large group of people in one area.

Especially when it’s unplanned.

“For example, the state fair, or even at WE Fest for example,” said Sando. “There’s a lot of infrastructure, a lot of environmental planning that goes into that.”

If the trash gets in the river at the protest site, it will not affect us here in the Red River Valley.

Peterson said all treatment plants test so much that people shouldn’t be worried about their drinking water.

If something doesn’t pass, it’s required by the state that the city is notified.

“If it’s a bacterial thing, that’s where you hear about boil orders,” added Peterson. “That’s when they say don’t use the water. Boil it first until the bacteria issue is resolved.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to be on the site by the end of the week to help with cleanup.

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