Authorities in North Dakota are working to prevent an environmental catastrophe caused by the massive amounts of trash left behind by anti-oil pipeline protesters, local media report.
State and tribal sanitation crews are rushing to remove piles of waste and debris left over from the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline before weather warms and the mountains of trash turn toxic.
According to cleaning crews, they're worried they might even find dead bodies among the piles of refuse that now pollute areas where anti-pipeline protesters camped out for months.
"It's estimated it will take 250 trucks filled with litter to clear the camp," according to a local NBC affiliate. Once the spring thaw comes, the area could be at risk of major environmental damage. "In a month, all this trash could become toxic."
"We are looking for, as I said, anything illegal, anything that might be used to, I guess, harm our officers during a protest," says Jay Gruebele, Morton County Sheriff's Office Captain.
Authorities are also searching through the piles for evidence they hope they don't find.
"As bad as it sounds, we're looking for people that may have died and could be wrapped up in a canvas or a tarp or tent," says Gruebele.