Chesterton Tribune

Drainage board okays Enbridge pipeline plans for Johnson and Kemper ditch crossings

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The new replacement plan for Enbridge Energy’s Line 6B crude oil pipeline met with the approval of the County Drainage Board on Monday, regarding how the new line will cross two county regulated drains in Liberty and Pine townships.

A group from Enbridge’s office in Griffith attended the drainage board meeting seeking permission to install new pipe under the county-regulated Johnson Ditch just south of Chesterton, east of Ind. 49 on CR 900N and Arm 12 of Kemper Ditch near Burdick Road before it enters LaPorte County.

Community Relations Advisor for Enbridge Jennifer Smith said the company proposes to replace the existing 30” pipeline laid in the late 1960s with a 36” line that will have double the wall thickness (.5 inches). The line, she said, would be placed open cut at a depth of five feet below the channel which County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke regarded as “sufficient.”

Drainage Board President Dave Burrus said the board is no the entity to approve the replacement project but has the authority to give Enbridge permission to cross the regulated drains.

The 6B line intersects a total of seven drain crossings in the county including tributaries of Salt Creek, Coffee Creek and Damon Run, but only Johnson Ditch and Kemper Ditch are county-regulated.

Burrus inquired whether the new pipeline would require casings. Enbridge engineering and construction manager Marc DeVarennes said that is something the company does not regularly do because of maintenance issues like corrosion but the pipeline’s wall thickness will be increased to at some railroad crossings.

Enbridge will also implement restoration efforts once the new line is placed. Clearing and grading will come first, DeVarennes said, and the topsoil is piled onto the pipe once it is tested for strength and placed in the ground. Through its “Tree for a Tree” program, Enbridge will plant a new tree for every single tree removed. The trees will be planted to maintain the natural slopes and enhance erosion control, Smith said.

DeVarennes added that Enbridge will also reconnect any field tiles that may be broken during construction.

Board member and Liberty Twp. resident Ed Gutt said he does not object to the pipeline replacement plan and felt it would be good for the area to have the line upgraded. He said that communication between the two groups should be upheld and the county should make inspections.

“There needs to be some communication between you (Enbridge) and us to make sure these streams are functional,” said Gutt.

Burrus also advocated that Enbridge share its maps with the county highway department and its Hazardous Material team.

Enbridge looks to begin construction in September after it acquires its many federal and state permits and hopes the work in Indiana can be completed by the end of the year, Smith said.

The existing 6B line will remain in the ground and will be deactivated by Enbridge under regulations by the Office of Pipeline Safety within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Smith said removing the line is being avoided because it would cause significant impacts on the environment and disturb the right-of-ways.

The line would be cleaned by removing residual oils and then filling them with an inert gas such as nitrogen, Smith said and added that the pipe will still be monitored on a regular basis.

Line 6B runs from Lake County, Ind., to Ontario, Canada, replacing 50 miles in Indiana and 160 miles in Michigan. The nearly $2 billion project according to Enbridge is to reduce future maintenance activities and to meet increased demands from shippers.

The project has drawn attention from the Save the Dunes organization which pushed an online petition to allow the public to scrutinize the effort in light of recent ruptures of Enbridge oil pipelines. Save the Dunes asked that more public information sessions be held.

Smith mentioned two sessions will occur over the next few days, the soonest being this Thursday at the Valparaiso Public Library hosted by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. A public hearing will be held at 4 p.m. in Meeting Room B of the library on the topic of Enbridge seeking a number of permits from the DNR.

Enbridge will also be giving a formal presentation to the Environmental Management and Planning Committee of the Regional Planning Commission on Sept. 6 in Portage.

The company was also asked by County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, to give the presentation at an upcoming county board of commissioners meeting.

An open house was held by Enbridge in June at the LaPorte County Complex and land agents are continuing to contact landowners by mail, over the phone or face-to-face. The hotline number to speak with an Enbridge land agent is 866-410-4356.

In her presentation, Smith said Enbridge has a safety delivery record of more than 99.99 percent and invested $400 million in upgrades and improvements last year. For 2012, it anticipates more than $800 million will be invested in integrity and safety programs.

Meanwhile, Breitzke said the Enbridge pipeline is one of many underground lines that move through Porter County and a substantial portion of them carry either oil or natural gas. Pipelines connecting to the East Coast are prevalent through Northwest Indiana because of the proximity to Chicago and Lake Michigan, he said.

 

 

Posted 8/21/2012