GRIFFITH | Large tanker trucks began rumbling through the residential neighborhood of North Cline Avenue 24 hours a day Wednesday, heading to and from the Enbridge Energy Co. Griffith Terminal to empty 29 million gallons of water stored in the tank farm on Avenue H.
That’s 168 trucks a day, seven days a week for about 30 days, according to George Jerome, Griffith clerk-treasurer.
The constant noisy truck traffic, safety issues and possible damage to roads and underground infrastructure have residents along North Cline Avenue upset because they weren’t notified before the tanker trucks rolled.
And it’s something that the Town Council will hear about at tonight's meeting at 7 when residents, including Margaret Garastik and Susan Nowlin, express concerns about the project.
The project started Aug. 20 in Illinois, is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration as well as the Great Lakes Compact, and has had to meet immediate deadlines, said Jennifer Smith, Enbridge spokesperson based in Schererville.
Pipeline 14 that goes into the Enbridge tank farm in Griffith usually carries crude oil and starts in Superior, Wis. To properly test the pipeline in Illinois for leakage, the water that originated in Lake Superior needed to be pumped at 1.5 times the normal pressure, she said.
But, according to the Great Lakes Compact, water that is taken from the Great Lakes must be returned to the Great Lakes after being treated.
A major problem developed because the Griffith tank field isn’t in the Great Lakes basin, Smith said.
Various scenarios were explored for this final phase of the test — to get the water from the tanks to a treatment facility in Northwest Indiana so it could be pumped back into Lake Michigan, she said.
“After working with the state, it was decided we had to truck the water out,” Smith said. “The trucks are making big circles, 24/7. We have some very tight deadlines to finish the test.”
Town Attorney Bob Schwerd negotiated an agreement with Enbridge to use Main Street and North Cline Avenue and to pay the town more than $700,000 to repair any roads torn up by the heavier-than-usual truck traffic.
“Enbridge has the absolute right to use the roadways,” Schwerd said.
That agreement was approved by the Town Council at its Sept. 3 meeting, but residents weren’t notified.
For Garastik and Nowlin, the lack of communication between the town and Enbridge is problematic.
“This is a critical safety issue for children of Griffith,” Garastik said in an email she sent to the Griffith School Board, the Griffith Town Council and The Times Media Co.
Griffith High School and Middle School are just a half-block from North Cline Avenue and students walk to school. Younger elementary children wait for buses to their schools all along the street.
Even Enbridge didn’t notify residents before the trucks started rolling, acknowledged Smith.
“Enbridge sent out notification. It was supposed to go out on Monday (Sept. 9). It didn’t come from my office,” she said.
What did arrive on Sept. 14 was a letter from Enbridge dated Sept. 12 containing a $100 Visa gift card and delivered by Fed-Ex, along “with sketchy details of the project,” Garastik said.
The gift card “was a kind of pardon our dust for the inconvenience,” Smith said.
“We are denied a peaceful night's sleep because we have to endure the sound of these trucks rumbling down the street all night long,” Nowlin said.