April 09, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Enbridge Energy will not be permitted to extend the construction hours for their planned petroleum pump station in the township.
Additionally, the township plans police enforcement if necessary to prevent the multi-billion dollar company from violating the township ordinance which allows construction work only between the hours of 7 a.m. And 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
More than a dozen neighbors of the planned pump station at 3403 Seymour Lake Road turned out for the township board's April 7 meeting, and voiced their anger and frustration that Enbridge has no apparent regard for them.
"This nightmare began last May with Enbridge," said Susan Evans, whose property is just south of the planned pump station. "They pound the ground, shaking the house, they've cracked our drywall, their lights are blazing in our windows from 10:30 at night til 5 in the morning. You hold other landowners accountable, please maintain our rights as homeowners."
Larry Newton, a Cook Trail resident and also a neighbor of the pump station, likened Enbridge to "rapists."
"They have come to the community and financially and emotionally raped us," he said. "And they are now asking you to rape us even more viciously. They want to get this done sooner so they can make more money or because they are going to pay penalties... If they didn't need your permission to extend hours, they already would have done it. They don't have to have longer hours, you have the capacity to stop them."
Meredith Powell, a representative for Enbridge, said the company was requesting the extended hours because the work on the pump station did not begin when expected, thus pushing the timeline back. Part of the Line 6B replacement pipeline will be in service May 1, with the deadline for the entire line to be in service by Sept. 1. The Line 6B crude oil pipeline stretches more than 200 miles from Griffith, Ind. to Marysville, Mich. In Brandon Township, there will be six miles of pipeline as well as the nearly 35-foot tall pump station, which will exceed 5,000 square feet, and house two 6,000 horsepower pumps as well as a spare.
Enbridge has estimated that up to 300,000 barrels of crude oil could be pumped through the pipeline daily. Two pumps are needed due to demand and Enbridge acknowledged they could run 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Current forecasts by Enbridge have the Ortonville pumps running about 60-70 percent of the time.
Noise levels have been one of the primary concerns regarding the pump station. The station is in a residential area, surrounded by homes that were previously valued at several hundred thousand dollars
"If we get extended hours, we hope to be done by July 1," said Powell. "We know the neighbors are unhappy and we are trying to shorten the length of the construction. With regular hours, it will push us to the September deadline."
Trustee Ron Lapp noted the township has had a very negative experience with Enbridge, which encountered resistance in Brandon when the company failed to obtain proper permits and violated township ordinances. Enbridge was responsible for one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history, the 2010 Marshall, Mich. disaster in which 1 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River from a ruptured pipeline. For most of 2012, township officials challenged Enbridge plans after their requests for higher safety standards went unheeded and even approved court action before the company finally met legal requirements.
"We have been reasonable and tried to do what we can," said Lapp to Powell. "We're not here to ignore residents, we're going to require you to toe the line. Not all communities have challenged you, we're willing to do that. Enbridge needs to work on public relations... I can put a deputy out there on overtime. It has to stop or the circuit court will shut you down. You guys have to get with the program."
Powell acknowledged Enbridge had "things we need to work on" and the company is committed to doing that.
"We want to get the parameters in place and do whatever is required by the township," she said.
The board set the parameters by unanimously passing a motion to allow Enbridge Energy and contractors, not withstanding two security personnel, to be on site from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday excluding holidays from April 8-Sept. 30 for the purpose of constructing the pump station and Line 6B replacement project.
Enbridge will host a Line 6B pipeline replacement informational meeting for landowners along the route, local and elected officials, and other key stakeholders from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., April 14, at the Oxford Township Vet Hall, 28 N. Washington St., Oxford.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville