A crude oil pipeline in ND spilled thousands of gallons into a waterway

The spill happened about 150 miles from the site of DAPL protests.

About 150 miles from the site of monthslong demonstrations in North Dakota – where people were protesting the construction of a pipeline over fears it could contaminate the water supply – an oil pipeline broke and leaked into a creek.

The oil spill came from a pipeline operated by Belle Fourche Pipeline and was first discovered Monday, Dec. 5, the state's Department of Health said. The pipeline is a diameter of about 6 inches, and carries crude oil from the Williston Basin into Wyoming.

The spill happened about 16 miles northwest of Belfield, North Dakota (which is along I-94, in the western part of the state).

Now we've got an idea of just how much oil leaked out.

CNBC reports 176,000 gallons of oil went into nearby Ash Coulee Creek. A spokesperson told the news organization it was contained within hours of being discovered – but it's not clear why technology didn't detect the leak. Instead, a local resident noticed it.

The Dickinson Press says oil got into a tributary of the Little Missouri River last week, but didn't reach the main waterway.

However, for people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, it underscores a key part of their argument: That even with safeguards, oil spills can happen. They were especially concerned because the plans included putting the pipeline under Lake Oahe – which could threaten the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water source if it became contaminated.

Supporters told NBC News this recent spill "validates" their worry.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was blocked by the Army earlier this month. Though Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, has said it plans to complete the route.

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