LaPORTE | A coalition of environmental groups issued a joint statement of concern Monday regarding Enbridge Energy LP's oil pipeline project on the eve of a public hearing regarding the potential water quality impact of the work.
The statement was released by Save the Dunes, National Wildlife Federation, Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League (Porter County Chapter), Sierra Club (Dunelands Group, Hoosier Chapter), Freshwater Future, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center and Alliance for the Great Lakes.
"The physical and chemical properties of this product pose a unique, long-term threat to the environment and water resources of the Lake Michigan watershed and to the health and safety of residents of Northwest Indiana," the statement reads.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is hosting a public hearing Tuesday in LaPorte on two applications Enbridge Energy LP has filed as a result of planned water quality impacts for its new Line 6B pipeline project.
The meeting will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the LaPorte County Library, 904 Indiana Ave.
Enbridge's applications seek permission to place fill material into state regulated waters. The hearing aims to solicit public comment to help IDEM evaluate whether the projects comply with state water pollution control laws and regulations.
Hobart and Enbridge Inc. also will host a community information meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Southlake Worship Center, 3440 W. 61st Ave. Discussion will focus on the Line 6B Replacement Project that will be routed through parts of Hobart.
Enbridge currently owns and operates Line 6B, a 30-inch diameter crude oil and liquid petroleum pipeline that originates in Griffith and runs 50 miles through Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties in Indiana and continues to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge plans to build a new pipeline adjacent to the existing one in segments. The Indiana section of the pipeline would have a diameter of 36 inches. The current pipeline will be deactivated, purged of material, filled with nitrogen and left in place.
The projects will cross 145 wetlands for a total of nearly 23,727 linear feet, which is about 4.5 miles, according to IDEM. Enbridge expects to temporarily impact 76.3 acres of wetlands, which it said will be mitigated by planting and monitoring at impact sites.
To cover the project's permanent wetlands impact, Enbridge will perform compensatory mitigation that includes the restoration of wetlands and grassland to a 70-acre site on Indiana Department of Natural Resources property in Pine Township.
The statement issued by the environmental groups Monday highlights a history of spills on Enbridge pipelines, including one that sent more than 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.
"If a Michigan-style spill happened at any one of the 30 major waterways crossed by the proposed pipeline, the spill would reach Lake Michigan," the statement reads. "The impact on our economy, public health and the environment would be catastrophic."
The statement urges IDEM to require Enbridge to follow alternate routes to protect wetlands, hire independent environmental monitors, include construction best practices as conditions of all permits to protect water quality and include post-construction restoration and monitoring requirements in all permits.