Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Enbridge restarts Michigan oil pipeline in stages

LANSING, Mich. - After a two-month shutdown, oil began flowing again on Sept. 27 through Enbridge Line 6B.

The line has been shut since late July after spilling an estimated 19,500 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River watershed.

In a short statement, Enbridge Inc. confirmed the gradual restart of the pipeline running between Griffith, Ind., and Sarnia, Ontario.

The company reported a massive oil leak in Marshall, Mich., on July 26.

Enbridge said the restart is a "staged process" run in accordance with a restart plan approved by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Sept. 27 was the earliest a gradual return to service was permitted by federal regulators.

The pipeline was being restarted at lower pressure. An independent third party that reports to federal regulators will help monitor the restart.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a statement saying it also was keeping tabs on Enbridge during the restart and had staff located throughout the pipeline system to oversee it.

Enbridge will have to make multiple repairs on the pipeline within 180 days, and it will have one year to replace a section of dented pipe running under the St. Clair River in southeast Michigan.

In August, Enbridge estimated cleanup and other costs from the spill could be $300 million to $400 million. The charges include the emergency response, cleanup, repairs, claims by third parties, lost revenue and other items. It excludes possible fines and penalties. Insurance is expected to cover most of the cost.

More than 1,500 oil-damaged birds and animals have been rescued from the spill site. More than 1,300 turtles, more than 100 Canada geese and several muskrats, swans, herons, snakes and frogs have been rehabilitated and released.

Note to subscribers: If you would like a copy of the 20-page Enbridge restart proposal to PHMSA, email ngriese@ anvilpub.com.

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