GRIFFITH, Ind. (AP) — Enbridge Energy approval has won a federal agency's
approval to begin installing the first segment of its planned replacement
of 60 miles of crude oil pipeline in northern Indiana.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently cleared the way for work to
begin on a pipeline section running between the Indiana-Michigan state
line and LaPorte, The Times of Munster reported.
The agency still must approve the remainder of the Indiana project, which
is part of the replacement of a decades-old, 286-mile-long pipeline
running from Griffith, Ind., through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.
Construction on the Indiana section of the pipeline replacement is
expected to start in September and be finished by year's end.
Enbridge is investing $1.5 billion to install a new, bigger line that will
serve the BP Whiting Refinery and other Midwestern refineries.
A 60-mile portion of that line runs through northern Indiana's Lake,
Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties near Lake Michigan. But
environmental groups worry the project could harm sensitive areas and fear
a breach of the new pipeline would have devastating impacts on the lake
and its watershed, which provides drinking water to millions of people.
In March, a consortium of 55 Great Lakes conservation groups, including
Save the Dunes, filed a federal petition calling for an end to pipeline
construction by Enbridge Energy until updated safety measures are in
The groups' concerns center on the company's previous spills, including
one in southwestern Michigan in 2010 that spilled about 800,000 gallons of
oil into a river. That spill took more than two years to clean up, closed
the waterway to recreation for a year and cost $767 million to remediate.
Enbridge officials said the company has since adopted new safety
procedures its employees have completed safety training. The company said
it would overreact to any spill, whatever its size, and dispatch 500
employees to contain it.
The new pipeline will cross Porter County property owned by 73-year-old
Bill LaFever, who has been plowing the soil and planting corn and beans
since he was 12 years old.
He worries the pipeline would limit what his family can do with the land
and questioned whether the pipeline is thick enough.
"I couldn't afford to fight it, so I tried to get the best deal I could
possibly get," LaFever said.
He said Enbridge addressed his biggest concerns by assuming all liability
if the line were ever ruptured on his property and by agreeing to pump any
water the digging unearths. The company also agreed to remove all rubble
from the farm ground and put the top soil back in place, LaFever said.
Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said that in preparation for
construction, workers are staking and clearing out the Indiana route of
the pipeline. That project will create about 200 local construction jobs,
A group of several hundred construction workers who have been running the
pipeline through Michigan will stay at local hotels, dine at area
restaurants and spend money at other businesses during the time they're
working on the project, Smith said.