Atom Bombs, Rotting Pipe Lines—What’s the Difference ?

Dave Archambault Sr.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe worries constantly about what the esteemed and honorable leaders of America will end up doing. Will the Army Corps, politicians, the judge, EPA, Justice Department, and the White House – will they just go ahead and put a time bomb on the Tribe’s doorstep ?

What worries the “red man” living in America are the micro-bugs that will eat away at steel that leads to pressure ruptures in pipelines. In the oil industry the microscopic bugs are called MIC’s, Microbiological Induced Corrosion. These little super-bugs cause build up and blockages and worst of all – deterioration. They are what most threatens the integrity of any and all oil pipelines. It is very important to know that the pipeline builders have no defense against them.

The next big worry or identified weakness of a pipeline is the welding that is done at the joints. This is not to say there is poor workmanship of welders at all. Much of the welding is done by state of the art automated welding machines however; a welded joint ages and becomes brittle, cracks, and loses its integrity. This inherent weakness ultimately gives way to the tremendous pressure that compression stations force into the pipelines in order to move the heavy payload. In the end because there are a jillion welds all over the pipeline infrastructure in America, the fact is that the welds will be put under incredible stress and the pipelines will eventually leak or rupture.

The other very troubling aspect to subsurface crude oil transportation is the un-forcastable movement of earth’s crust. Compared to the power of Mother Earth, a pipeline is like a “pretzel” in the ground. Even though a pipeline is made of steel, as the land continually rises and drops, heaves and shifts, the steel welded tube is insignificant to its muscle, which forces breaches.

So the reality is, Tribes and America are witness to a frightening state of existence in the coming years with 2.5 million miles of oil pipelines dug and imbedded all over the country that will start failing at increased frequency.


It is not scientifically known what the “Shelf Life” of a pipeline is, but EnergyWire researched pipe failure data and reported, “there were 7,662 spills, blowouts, and leaks in 2013, which is an average of 20 per day in the United States.” This data is dated but current research is showing a steady rise with every year that passes due to aging.

We should not be building a new one. We should stop building them and start repairing them. We should be moving to alternatives to oil production.

Right now America is most worried about North Korea’s atomic warhead testing. When Korea performs a test, the news makes front page headlines. It is broadcast immediately on the nightly news shows because the threat is so frightening.

However, there is no difference in killing life or ruining the environment with a flash of an atomic bomb explosion, or killing life and ruining the environment over a few centuries of time. What’s the difference ? One is quick and the other is gradual but either one has deadly consequence.

As far as science folks can figure, the ground we walk on is 4.5 billion years old. Our Lakota and Dakota people believe and see creation and existence without such a time frame or linear thinking. Mathew King, who was one of our most esteem keepers of our knowledge, said everything was responsible because of the “Great Mysterious”. We had so much respect for this indescribable power that we believe the “Great Mysterious or Great Spirit” is most certainly moving and in all of existence. And we came to know that our greatest gift to have and enjoy life was water.

When one translates Mni Wiconi it conveys an understanding that water is the source or substance of Life. We have so much respect for water that water is intertwined into every one of our sacred ceremonies, whereas, in the oil industry, according to a 2011 EPA report, 400,000 gallons of water is poisoned with Benzanine and other chemicals everyday in the oil industry. How this misuse of water will impact humankind will take years and years to experience but common sense says poisoning water can’t have a good result because all life springs from water.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is very small in the scheme of things, but the Tribe does know the value and importance of water to our people, so it is obvious that the Tribe is ready to stand and protect water and land from being ruined. The Tribe could be stepped on like an ant by a world power, nonetheless, because DAPL presents such a threat, Standing Rock has drawn the line regarding the pipeline that is being built.

The Standing Rock Chairman, Dave Archambault, II said, “We are so thankful for Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to come and stand beside us. We are so grateful that virtually all the Tribes in America are coming to stand beside us. We are so grateful for our youth who were so brave to run to Washington, DC to ask for help for their future. We are so thankful to important people and celebrities who are now standing with us. We are so thankful for those beautiful Americans and foreigners from everywhere who also care about the grandchildren and the great-grand children yet to come.”

Standing Rock is in a battle against one pipeline but with a little help from friends, perhaps we can influence and change away from the “Self-Gratification” thinking that is moving our Country into an unknown but certainly dangerous era where society as a whole must begin understanding and acting to protect the environment and the earth itself.

Dave Archambault Sr., is best known as the Indian School Whisper, aka Joe Bucking Horse. He has been a voice for future generations by advocating empowerment schooling models for Indian learners of all ages. He earned a masters degree from Penn State and has headed the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, American Indian College Fund, Sitting Bull College, with experience as Tribal Councilman, School Superintendent, Principal, and currently sits on a BIE grant school and Fort Yates public school board, and is the chairman of the Board for the American Indian Business Leaders organization.

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