US & Canada

Dakota pipeline: Police arrest 76 as protests continue

North Dakota National Guard vehicle on the outskirts of the Dakota Access oil pipeline protest camp. January 29, 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There is tight security around the construction area in North Dakota

Police in the US state of North Dakota say they have arrested 76 people protesting against a controversial oil pipeline.

They say the arrests happened when protesters refused to leave land owned by the pipeline company.

A spokesman said the latest arrests brought the number detained since August to almost 700.

They came after the US Army was ordered to allow the construction of the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Native Americans and their supporters have protested against the project for months, and have vowed to fight on.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe say the final section - under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River - would contaminate drinking water on their land and damage sacred burial sites.

Morton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Rob Keller said the latest arrests were made after demonstrators moved from their existing camp on flood-prone ground to land owned by the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners.

He said no injuries had been reported during the operation. Protest leaders could not be reached for comment.

The $3.7bn (£2.8bn) pipeline is designed to transport about 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day across four states, from North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois, where it can be shipped to refineries.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which has approval authority, decided last year to explore other routes for the pipeline amid huge protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

But earlier this week, acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer ordered the corps to allow the work to go ahead.

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order signalling his support for the pipeline.

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