December 17, 2014

Oil pipeline leaks in Adams Township

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The Enbridge pipeline after being fitted with a clamp to seal the leak.
Kevin Bunch
An excavator moves earth around the site of an oil pipeline leak in Adams Township. The site is restricted, amid concerns of oil contamination.
Kevin Bunch
Enbridge workers were still on site Friday morning, cleaning up the site of an oil pipeline leak in Adams Township.
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By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

Updated 2/20 9:35 a.m.

ADAMS TWP. — An underground Enbridge oil pipeline was shut down Wednesday, Feb. 15 after it was discovered to be leaking oil into the ground in Adams Township near Ward Road.

According to Arenac County Emergency Management Director Ed Rohn, Enbridge engineers detected an anomaly during a routine maintenance inspection on in the 30-inch pipeline, which, upon inspection, was found to be leaking oil.

The pipeline was shut down immediately, Rohn said, and a steel clamp was installed to contain the leak. The Enbridge crew worked through the night of Wednesday, Feb. 15 to dig to the pipe and install the clamp, and clean up the contaminated soil. In all, about 126 gallons of oil leaked out.

“An estimate of two to three barrels of oil leaked out,” Rohn said. “Once they are assured that leak and any others are filled, they will restart the pipeline.”

Enbridge spokesman Jason Manshum said the line was restarted Friday, Feb 17 at about 5 a.m.

Lorraine Little, manager with Enbridge’s U.S. Public Affairs office, said it would be running at a reduced capacity for safety’s sake for an indeterminate period of time.

The spill has also lead to the shutdown of another pipeline that runs into Superior, Wisconsin, due to the increased volume of oil that needed to move through the pipe. Little said it would be restarted once the line running through Adams Township has been reactivated.

Manshum said he had not heard if the Wisconsin line had been restarted yet.

The impact on gas prices is hard to calculate, Little said, but she did not expect a huge effect from the leak.

“We expect the impact to be minimal,” Little said. “We’ll try to alleviate the impact to (oil) shippers as best as possible.”

Francisco Arcaute, spokesman with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes office, said since the leak occurred in a rural area away from waterways, there should be no environmental impact beyond the immediate area of the spill.

The EPA helped coordinate the response with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Arcaute said, which would continue the cleanup effort.

MDEQ spokesman Brad Wurfel said the department is still looking to make sure there are no problems with local wetlands, but for the most part the cleanup process was straightforward.

Enbridge cleaned up a total of 150 cubic yards of oil-stained soil, Arcaute said. As an example, Wurfel explained a standard dump truck holds about 10 cubic yards.

The contaminated soil will be disposed of in a special landfill site.

“It will be taken to an approved landfill site,” Wurfel said. “Something with a clay layer so the oil won’t escape.”

Wurfel explained the MDEQ does not have teams of people to clean up environmental pollution, like this spill. Rather, it sends experts to the scene to help consult with the responsible parties on cleanup.

Wurfel said Enbridge’s response to this leak was quick.

“They got people on top of it and handled it professionally and quickly,” Wurfel said. “It was a fairly simple situation, thankfully.”

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