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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Environment - Concerns in NW Indiana about Enbridge Energy Partners LP's aging Line 6B oil pipeline and its replacement

Lauri Harvey Keagle and Bowdeya Tweh have several stories and related materials in the Sunday NWI Times about the pipeline project.

"Local residents pipe up with Enbridge concerns" is the heading to this lengthy story. The is a very informative story about the whole process of how the company is going about trying to secure lease agreements along the planned pipeline route. The story is accompanied by three sidebars with even more information. A sample from the story:

LaFever said Enbridge already has an 8-foot easement around the pipeline at his property. The new plan calls for a 25-foot easement for construction of the line in addition to the current easement.

Worried about his expected loss of property, LaFever said he's also concerned about liability for things like crop loss, workers injured during the construction or maintenance of the pipeline, contamination of his well water and changes to drainage that could cause flooding.

The contract he has also would absolve Enbridge of liability associated with the pipeline construction.

"All we've been asking for is a good agreement," he said.

In a statement, Enbridge denies asking landowners to sign agreements with such language.

"We are responsible to landowners for all damages or impacts resulting from pipeline maintenance work, construction or expansion of facilities and ongoing pipeline operations," Smith said in a statement. Smith said the company works before, during and after construction to ensure landowners, workers and the public are kept safe.

The first deal LaFever was offered from Enbridge was when a representative came to his home unannounced with a contract, he said. He said he was expected to respond to the offer in two days, but needed more time.

Enbridge has offered LaFever $21,900 for property the company needs to build the pipeline. The company has assigned right-of-way agents to all the landowners affected by the project to serve as liaisons in the negotiating process.

"I want to talk to somebody beside the right-of-way agent," LaFever said. "I do have an attorney, and I had an attorney look over it. I just hired him. That's money out of my pocket."

Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, said the organization has seen liability-release clauses like the one LaFever described in agreements from other pipeline companies. He said it's important for landowners to understand specific contract terms being proposed especially early in the process because "there may be all types of stuff that may not be favorable."

The Pipeline Safety Trust is a Bellingham, Wash.-based watchdog organization that evolved from a grassroots group established after a 1999 pipeline rupture and explosion killed two children and an adult.

Years later, the group has been able to work with landowners in each state and created an educational guide in 2011 to inform them about property rights and pipeline safety requirements. Even with the guide, he said it's still important for landowners to get an attorney to help them through the complex process of working with pipeline companies.

A second story by the same reporters is headed "NWI officials want safety assurances on new oil pipeline." Some quotes:
At local public meetings in recent months about the projects, residents said they remain concerned about leaks and spills into local waterways after the well-publicized break on Line 6B in July 2010 in Michigan that caused more than 1 million gallons of oil to spill into and near the Kalamazoo River.

The cleanup took more than two years, cost more than $767 million and closed the waterway to recreation until this summer. The Environmental Protection Agency told Enbridge on Oct. 3 that although more than 187,000 cubic yards of oil-contaminated sediment and debris was disposed of during the cleanup, more remediation was needed in sections of the river.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the spill near Marshall, Mich., was only a symptom of larger problems with Enbridge. In a report issued in July, the NTSB scolded the company for "pervasive organizational failures” that led to the critical failure of Line 6B and diluted bitumen spill.

Following the release of the report, former Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel said it made "numerous enhancements to their processes, procedures and training," including in its control center, as a result of the findings in the investigation. Enbridge also said safety is core to the company's operations, and Daniel said the company's intent is to learn from the incident.

Pavlovic said a construction performance bond would provide some assurance that Enbridge will do its best not to harm the environment, and if there is harm, there would be funds available to remedy that damage. With the fiscal conditions many states find themselves in, Pipeline Safety Trust Executive Director Carl Weimer said the ideal scenario would be for pipeline companies to fund the cost of environmental inspectors.

The ILB has a number of entries from 2008 and 2009 on the construction of the Rockies Express Pipeline, whose route cut through the middle of Indiana. Press coverage was spotty. The pipeline began in Colorado and continued on through Ohio. The most recent entry, from Aug. 26, 2009, is headed "Rockies Express Pipeline apparently reneges on Indiana agreements."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 14, 2012 05:29 PM
Posted to Environment