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Enbridge defends safety standards

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September 19, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- Enbridge sought to answer questions and allay concerns of township boardmembers at a meeting Sept. 13 regarding the replacement of the Line 6B petroleum pipeline.

"I felt the workshop was productive and I'm glad they were here to give detailed information," said Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman, who declined to answer whether she was satisfied with the answers given by the multi-billion dollar company that plans to replace 75 miles of pipeline from Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario, including six miles of pipeline in Brandon Township and three miles in Groveland Township.

Enbridge representatives, including Project Manager Thomas Hodge, addressed eight different requirements placed in a resolution that township officials passed in August. The resolution demands Enbridge meet higher safety standards for pipeline wall thickness, increased numbers of valves and inspections, and on-site monitoring. The resolution also states that Enbridge must guarantee that once the existing pipeline (alongside which the new one is to be built) is deactivated, that it will not be used again and seeks compensation for additional usage of township roads.

It appears Enbridge has not conceded to any of the demands, but instead gave extensive explanations as to why the replacement pipeline is various widths at various places.

The township was seeking what appeared to be the greater safety standards planned for the Northern Gateway Project in Canada; however, Thurman noted that the Line 6B project and the Canadian project are not comparable.

"The bottom line is, you are looking at two different pipes," she said. "You are not comparing apples to apples if you are looking at wall thickness for one and wall thickness for another. You think you're asking (Enbridge) a simple question, but you're not getting a simple answer. The big point they wanted to get across is Line 6B will operate with a high safety margin at a maximum of 72 percent of the pretested yield strength of the pipe."

Enbridge has not changed their safety plans for the replacement pipeline to match Northern Gateway, but representatives said the safety standards exceed what is required in the U.S.

Enbridge will not give the township a guarantee that the old pipeline, in place since the late 60s, won't be reactivated sometime in the future, and Thurman said she is not aware of any additional compensation they will offer to the township as requested.

Enbridge began clearing trees in the township the first week of September. On Sept. 12, it appeared a stop work order was in effect on Allen Road near Reese Road. On a 19-acre farm at that location, subcontractors who asked not to be named, stood by large pieces of equipment and numerous large trees that had been cut down. The workers said they had not cleared any trees that day.

Thurman said township officials were looking into whether Enbridge had violated the township's woodlands ordinance.

"They are supposed to submit site plans where they will remove trees on acreage that exceeds 11 acres, which they haven't done," she said. "They've removed trees, but haven't submitted plans. We suspect they may intend to violate or have already, but we're not sure."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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