Sanitation crews are looking for dead bodies and deadly weapons at Dakota Access Pipeline protest campsites.
Crews are working to dispose of hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage from ramshackle campsites along the so-called DAPL construction site. The debris needs to be removed from the city-sized campsite before spring thaw floods the area.
Law enforcement officials and environmental regulators with Standing Rock Sioux are combing the site for dead bodies rolled up in tarps, as well as weapons that could be used against Morton County police officers. They are using bulldozers and earth-moving equipment to scrape the area clean of debris.
“We are looking for, as I said, anything illegal, anything that might be used to, I guess, harm our officers during a protest,” Jay Gruebele, Morton County Sheriff’s Office captain, told reporters Monday.
He added: “As bad as it sounds, we’re looking for people that may have died and could be wrapped up in a canvas or a tarp or tent.”
Environmentalists and members of the Standing Rock, one of the Indian American tribes opposing the multi-state project, believe the DAPL could trample tribal artifacts and potentially poison waterways. Cultural surveys conducted last year by the Army Corps of Engineers, however, show the pipeline avoided tribal lands.
The tribe urged protesters to vacate the area since the Army Corps rejected the $3.8 billion project in December, yet the anti-DAPL activists have refused Standing Rock’s pleas. President Donald Trump has since approved the pipeline — along with the Keystone XL line — leading to increased activity at the campsite.
Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who took office in December, warned protesters in January that if the sites are not cleared before March, then rainfall and snow melt could “endanger” their lives.
Crews began cleaning the site this week after months of protests at the site.
“Standing Rock Environmental Protection Agency and Dakota Sanitation are working together to try and advert an environmental tragedy,” says Tom Doering, Morton County emergency manager.
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