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After clashes and protests, judge stops work on portion of N.D. oil pipeline

BISMARCK, N.D. -- The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says a federal judge’s decision to temporarily stop work on some, but not all, of a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline puts his people’s sacred places “at further risk of ruin and desecration.”

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said Tuesday that work will temporarily stop between State Highway 1806 and 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but that work will continue west of the highway.

Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement that the tribe is disappointed that the judge’s decision doesn’t stop the destruction of sacred sites while the tribe waits for a different ruling.

In this Aug. 26, 2016, photo, Monte Lovejoy, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, left, takes a photo with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II at Cannon Ball, N.D. About 30 people, including Archambault himself, have been arrested in recent weeks for interfering with construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.  James MacPherson, AP

Boasberg said he’ll issue a decision by the end of Friday on the tribe’s broader push that challenges federal regulators’ decision to grant permits. 

The tribe requested the stoppage after a weekend confrontation between protesters and construction workers near Lake Oahe due to workers allegedly bulldozing sites that attorney Jan Hasselman said were “of great historic and cultural significance to the tribe.”

Hasselman said Tuesday that the tribe was “disappointed that some of the important sacred sites that we had found and provided evidence for will not be protected.”

Boasberg said he’ll issue a decision by the end of Friday on the tribe’s broader push that challenges federal regulators’ decision to grant permits.

Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured after several hundred protesters confronted construction crews Saturday afternoon at the Dakota Access pipeline construction site. One of the security officers was taken to a Bismarck hospital for undisclosed injuries. The two guard dogs were taken to a Bismarck veterinary clinic, Preskey said.

In this July 10, 2014 file photo, a worker builds up a berm against a massive saltwater spill from an underground pipeline on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation near Mandaree, N.D. Scientists say wastewater spills from oil development in western North Dakota are releasing toxins into soils and waterways. In a report published Wednesday, April 27, 2016, Duke University researchers say they detected high levels of lead, ammonium and other contaminants in surface waters affected by recent wastewater spills in the Bakken oilfield region. AP Photo/Tyler Bell, File

Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear said protesters reported that six people had been bitten by security dogs, including a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed, he said. Preskey said law enforcement authorities had no reports of protesters being injured.

There were no law enforcement personnel at the site when the incident occurred, Preskey said. The crowd dispersed when officers arrived and no one was arrested, she said.

Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which is developing the pipeline, said the protesters broke through a fence and “attacked” the workers.

The incident occurred within half a mile of an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the tribe’s protest of the oil pipeline, which is slated to cross the Dakotas and Iowa to Illinois.

The tribe fears the pipeline will disturb sacred sites and impact drinking water for thousands of tribal members on the reservation and millions farther downstream.

The protest Saturday came one day after the tribe filed court papers saying it found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” along the pipeline’s path.

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