A gasoline pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama, exploded yesterday (October 31)—more than a month after it spilled 338,000 gallons of gas—leading to one death and as many as seven people injured so far.
A temporary flight restriction is in effect in the area of the pipeline explosion. Only relief aircraft are authorized in the airspace. pic.twitter.com/Ymld4xL3n4— Alabama EMA (@AlabamaEMA) November 1, 2016
Though Colonial Pipeline Co., the company behind the line, reported no environmental damage, the flames from the explosion have sparked three wildfires, reports a local ABC affiliate. The event serves as a reminder of what can happen to pipelines of any sort, including the Dakota Access Pipeline currently the focus of much environmental organizing, especially among Native people. The Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page wrote, “Our prayers to the people, land and waters in Alabama.”
This is the sort of incident pipeline opponents want to avoid. This is why they’ve set up at least three camps in North Dakota and one in Iowa: to protect their land and waters, including the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Law enforcement has met their acts of civil disobedience with much resistance. So far, roughly 223 water protectors have been arrested. In some instances, police and security officials have pepper sprayed, beat with batons and even unleashed dogs on pipeline opponents.
Now, a United Nations group is investigating these alleged human rights abuses, according to the Guardian.
Per the Guardian:
A representative of the UN’s permanent forum on indigenous issues, an advisory group, has been collecting testimony from Dakota Access pipeline protesters who have raised concerns about excessive force, unlawful arrests and mistreatment in jail where some activists have been held in cages.
“When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it’s really astounding to hear some of this testimony,” said Roberto Borrero, a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council.
Amnesty International also announced on October 28 that it would monitor actions surrounding the Dakota Access near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The organization sent a delegation of human rights observers “to monitor the response of law enforcement to protests by Indigenous communities.”