Officers in riot gear clashed again Wednesday with protesters near the Dakota Access pipeline, hitting dozens with pepper spray as they waded through waist-deep water in an attempt to reach property owned by the pipeline's developer, the AP reports. The confrontation came hours after North Dakota regulators criticized the pipeline company for not immediately reporting the discovery of American Indian artifacts and a day after President Obama raised the possibility of future reroutes to alleviate tribal concerns. Protesters tried to build a wooden pedestrian bridge across a creek to enter the property, then attempted to swim or boat across when officers dismantled the bridge, a sheriff's spokesperson said. Two arrests were reported.
Volunteer medics treated some of the protesters for hypothermia during the confrontation near the mouth of the Cannonball River. The potential for damage to American Indian sites and artifacts has been a flashpoint in a months-long protest over the pipeline, which is intended to carry crude from western North Dakota almost 1,200 miles to a shipping point in Patoka, Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation lies near the pipeline route, have led a protest over that issue and the pipeline's potential hazard to drinking water. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners could be fined up to $200,000 for waiting 10 days before reporting last month's discovery of stone cairns and other artifacts at the site.