Enbridge Line 6B project delayed until summer

2012-12-24T00:00:00Z 2012-12-24T14:18:03Z Enbridge Line 6B project delayed until summerLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

The manager of a $1.9 billion project to build a new Enbridge Energy LP pipeline that spans four Indiana counties says the project will now likely not break ground until June.

Enbridge owns and operates Line 6B, a 30-inch diameter crude oil and liquid petroleum pipeline running from Griffith to Sarnia, Ontario. Adjacent to the existing line, the company plans to build a new 36-inch diameter pipeline to increase flow capacity between Griffith and Stockbridge, Mich., and a new 30-inch diameter pipeline from Stockbridge to eastern Michigan.

The existing line will be deactivated, purged, filled with nitrogen and left in place.

Last week, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management hosted a public hearing in LaPorte on two permit applications from Enbridge regarding water quality impacts from the project. The applications are seeking permission to place fill material into state-regulated waters, including 76.3 acres of wetlands.

Thomas Hodge, project director for Enbridge, said he anticipates permits from entities such IDEM will be awarded in the spring. Hodge said contractors are expected to begin work in May and break ground in June.

"By the first of October (2013), we hope to have things ready to deactivate the existing line," Hodge said. The new line would be placed into service soon after that time, he said.

Hodge said he believes the project would have remained on schedule for a year-end completion "if there hadn't been any voices of public opposition raised," pushing the IDEM public hearing process.

Last week, a coalition of environmental groups issued a joint statement of concern about the project, urging the state to take extra steps to ensure Lake Michigan and its tributaries will not be compromised by the project or a breach of the pipeline.

Recent Enbridge spills have reached international attention, most notably one that sent more than 1 million gallons of oil into waterways, including the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. That cleanup took more than two years.

"As a company, we did take the Marshall (Michigan) incident very seriously," said Lorraine Little, senior manager of public affairs for Enbridge. "We never want that to happen again."

Hodge said it is not yet clear where construction will begin along the new Line 6B line.

Hodge said the old line will be "cut up in segments."

"We have no plans whatsoever to use that pipeline," he said.

Enbridge has been in negotiations with more than 600 property owners in Indiana for the acquisition of 25 feet of right of way that crosses their property for construction and maintenance of the new line.

As of last week, Hodge said agreements have not been reached with about a dozen land owners. Others have either signed agreements with Enbridge or been notified land owners that the company has rights in an existing easement to construct the new pipeline.  

"We have sent out about a dozen final offer letters," Hodge said, adding that is the first step in the legal condemnation process.

"We've come to an impasse," he said. "We would like to avoid that."

Little said the outstanding remaining settlements in large part represent "when somebody just has that emotional attachment to that property."

"There have been a lot of homes built on the easement and the easement is their backyard," Little said. "It is disruptive and we understand that. We are doing everything we can to work with those landowners."

Times Staff Writer Bowdeya Tweh contributed to this report.

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