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Speakers not happy with Enbridge plan to replace pipeline in region

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The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s Environmental Management and Policy Committee will conduct its own meeting on Enbridge’s plans from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6 at its headquarters, 6100 Southport Road, Portage. Enbridge is expected to present plans for the project at the meeting, which is open to the public.

Updated: September 25, 2012 10:47AM



VALPARAISO — Speakers at a hearing to gather comments about Enbridge Inc.’s plans for 60 miles of replacement pipeline through the region made a few things clear.

They expect the pipe, which is 6 inches larger in diameter than the existing 30-inch pipe and will carry tar sands, do leak, and, given the a massive pipeline breach two years ago in Michigan and a smaller one earlier this summer in Wisconsin, they don’t trust the company’s record.

More than 40 people crowded into a meeting room Thursday at the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library to share their sentiments about Enbridge’s plans. Officials from Enbridge did not attend the hearing.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ water division held the hearing at the request of the environmental group Save the Dunes. Officials from the state agency said their permitting process only covers where the pipeline crosses streams in the state, including Deep River, Salt Creek, Damon Run and the Little Calumet River, and some of their tributaries.

“We all know in this room that these pipelines will break and they will leak,” Porter County resident John Roser said.

They expressed concern about potential damage to plants, fish and other wildlife if a line breaks, and noted tar sands are toxic and difficult to clean up because they are heavy and sink to the bottom of waterways.

The old, smaller pipeline will remain in place, said Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes, and could be returned to service by Enbridge or another utility in the future. That line was built in the 1960s, she said.

She and other speakers also noted what the toxins in the tar sands could do.

“It’s a little hard to imagine, if it made it to the lake, the damage that could be done,” she said.

Enbridge is using more stringent standards for a pipeline it’s building in its native Canada, said Nathan Pavlovic, land and advocacy specialist with Save the Dunes.

“That’s the least they can do — do what they do at home,” he said.



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