Save the Dunes wants more pipeline hearings
BY Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com August 3, 2012 11:42PM
Save the Dunes has started on online petition asking that Enbridge conduct more public meetings on the proposed replacement pipeline. People can visit savethedunes.org to find a link to the petition.
Updated: September 6, 2012 6:21AM
Save the Dunes is calling for more public meetings on a proposed project to replace an Enbridge pipeline in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties after a recent federal report questioned the company’s ability to maintain its pipelines safely.
The pipeline to be replaced is part of the overall pipeline that leaked in 2010 in Marshall, Mich., and spilled 20,000 barrels of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. The spill cost about $800 million to clean up, considered the most expensive onshore spill in the country’s history.
Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes, said she didn’t think the public knew enough about the new project, which will replace about 50 miles of the current 30-inch pipeline with a 36-inch pipeline next to it.
Barker said there is no question that the line, which crosses about 30 waterways in Northwest Indiana, needs to be replaced because of cracks in it but said she was concerned because the new line would be able to pump even more tar sands.
“The public should at least be aware of this,” she said.
Work on the new 50 miles of pipeline and another 10 miles by Griffith and LaPorte, is tentatively scheduled to start in September.
At least one study has shown that tar sands do not corrode the pipelines, which can then lead to cracks and leaks. However, Barker said she didn’t place faith in it because it was an industry-sponsored study. The federal government is conducting its own study, but results from that are not expected until next year.
Joe Martucci, project spokesman for Enbridge, downplayed concerns of tar sands, however, noting that the National Transportation Safety Board report found that interior corrosion of the pipes was not one of the culprits in the 2010 spill.
Another issue was raised in a NTSB report released last week about what caused the oil spill in 2010 in Michigan. The report noted Enbridge such did not detect problems with the pipe and continued to use the pump 17 hours after the spill started.
“Although these deficiencies involved different elements of Enbridge’s operations, and may appear unrelated, taken together they suggest a systematic deficiency in the company’s approach to safety,” the report says.
Martucci said the company has conducted its own investigation into the Michigan oil spill and has already taken several steps to correct issues, such as spending $450 million in the last two years on the integrity of the pipelines.
However, Barker said the results of the report need to be looked at and that the public needs to be more aware of the proposed pipeline replacement.
“We want as much transparency as possible,” Barker said.
Enbridge did hold one meeting in LaPorte in the end of June, Martucci said. Land owners who have property with the pipeline running through it were notified by letter, he said, and the company did advertise in four newspapers, he said.
However, Barker said she found out about the meeting only a day before it happened and questioned how many people in Lake County were able to make a meeting in LaPorte. People who own land near the pipelines would also likely be concerned, she said.
He said that although Enbridge was willing to meet with officials from Save the Dunes, the company does not plan on having any more public open houses.