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Ind. Work on new oil Pipeline Delayed Until Spring

Wed December 26, 2012 - Midwest Edition
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GRIFFITH, Ind. (AP) - The operator of an oil pipeline that caused a large spill in Michigan expects it will be at least May before work begins to replace a 60-mile section of that pipeline in northern Indiana.

Enbridge Energy had planned to finish the section from its facility in the Lake County town of Griffith into Michigan by the end of this year, but its plans were delayed because of opposition, project director Thomas Hodge told The Times of Munster for a story Monday ( ).

The company now expects the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and other agencies to issue permits for the project in the spring, Hodge said. Contractors would begin work in May and break ground in June.

“By the first of October, we hope to have things ready to deactivate the existing line,” Hodge said. The new line would be placed into service soon after, he said.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc. announced plans in May to replace more than 200 miles of a pipeline that runs from Griffith to Sarnia, Ontario. That followed a July 2010 rupture of the pipeline near Marshall, Mich., which spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek in southern Michigan.

A coalition of environmental groups has urged Indiana officials to require Enbridge to find an alternative route for the pipeline to protect Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

“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 groups said in a statement last week. “The impact on our economy, public health and the environment would be catastrophic.”

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

Hodge said agreements had not been reached with about a dozen land owners as of last week.

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

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