Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Drainage Board approves ditch work for Enbridge mitigation site

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Members of the County Drainage Board on Monday voted unanimously to give permission for Enbridge Energy to enter onto Neimer Ditch easement in order to set up its mitigation site on a 71-acre parcel south of I-94 and County Line Rd. in Pine Twp.

Presenting the request was John Richardson of Cardno JFNew, an ecosystem restoration firm based in Walkerton who will be handling the mitigation.

As Richardson described for the board, the project will be primarily to break up the drainage tile and create a swale compatible with the landscape.

An upland prairie buffer will be created at the southeast corner and a series of check dams will be put in for erosion control.

The parcel is owned by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the mitigation is part of the permitting process for Enbridge’s extensive Line 6B crude oil pipeline replacement project.

Phase 2 of the project extends 210 miles approximately from Griffith, Ind. to Marysville, Mich. near the Canadian border.

Jennifer Smith, community relations advisor for Enbridge, said the goal of the proposed mitigation project is to develop land that is there into high functioning wetland. This conversion would compensate for the loss of forested wetland and regulated floodway impacted by the pipeline installation.

At the mitigation site, Enbridge will be planting more vegetation to provide an additional buffer between it and surrounding wetland properties.

Richardson said the work will not be exactly where the pipe crosses over. The actual pipe is actually three to four miles south of the INDOT parcel.

The Neimer ditch is a leg of the county regulated Kemper Ditch connected to Carver Ditch which eventually flows into an east arm of the Little Calumet River.

Smith said Enbridge would be responsible for monitoring and performing maintenance for at least 10 years or until performance data meets the plans sent to IDEM and Department of Natural Resources. After that, the DNR would take over those duties, she said.

The Drainage Board last year supported Enbridge’s plans to move across two regulated drain crossings during construction and installation of the 6B replacement line, Johnson Ditch in Liberty Twp. and Kemper Ditch in Pine Twp.

Smith said that Enbridge recently acquired all the permits it needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue construction in Indiana.

Crews have been staking and clearing land in St. Joseph and LaPorte over the last few weeks moving west and could enter into Porter County by next week to begin staking, Smith said.

The replacement pipe will run for about 50 miles in Indiana moving through Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties and 160 miles in Michigan. Overall project cost estimates are $300 million for the Indiana portion and $1.3 billion for the Michigan portion.

The pipe will be 36 inches in diameter with a minimum of .5 inch thickness. The thickness will be increased around railroad tracks and any area Enbridge will need to horizontally directional drill or bore, Smith said.

To avoid further environmental disruption, the existing 6B line, which had been installed in the late 1960s, 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.

Enbridge officials have said the new pipe will reduce the level of future maintenance which will mean fewer disruptions for local landowners and communities. It will have an increased capacity of 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day to meet the current and future demand of refineries.

Construction for this phase of the 6B line is expected to be completed by the end of the year and be in-service sometime in 2014.

 

 

Posted 9/11/2013