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Posted on Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

As Enbridge crude oil pipeline project moves forward, family prepares for loss of their yard

By Amy Biolchini

Editor's note: This story was edited to reflect ITCTransmission owns the transmission lines.


An orange ribbon, shown here Wednesday, indicates where Enbridge Pipelines Toledo Inc. is planning to bury a new crude oil pipeline four feet underground in the middle of the Bradley family's back yard in Lyndon Township in the northwest corner of Washtenaw County. The pipeline will be buried in an easement owned by a power company that the family leases.

Melanie Maxwell |

For the Bradley’s, their quiet, wooded Lyndon Township backyard in the northwest corner of Washtenaw County is many things.

To the family’s three daughters, Tigerlily, 10; Kasmira, 6; and Aruna, 3; it’s a playground. To their father Brendan Bradley, it’s a place to grow vegetables and cultivate native plants. And to wife and mother Ztaise Bradley (pronounced like “Stacy”), it’s an integral part of her home.

The majority of the family’s beloved yard is now in peril, as flags and markers indicate an imminent reality: A crude oil pipeline is plotted through the middle of the yard -- which means the trees, garden and rolling hill of the back yard will soon be leveled to make way for the project.

The pipeline is Line 79, a project planned by Enbridge Pipelines Toledo Inc. as an expansion of the company’s crude oil delivery to the Detroit refinery of Marathon Petroleum Corporation LLC and Toledo's BP-Husky Refinery.

At this time both refineries share the flow of crude oil flowing through Line 17, which currently has been running at capacity because of increased demands from both businesses. Line 17 diverts oil from Enbridge’s interstate Line 6B towards Detroit and Toledo.

Line 6B is the line that spilled more than 800,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

The new Line 79 will run parallel to Enbridge’s existing Line 17, which is routed from the Stockbridge junction of Line 6B in Ingham County to a junction in Freedom Township in Washtenaw County.

Much of the Bradley’s backyard is in the middle of an easement owned by ITCTransmission which has transmission towers in the area directly behind the Bradley’s house.


ITC's transmission towers in the middle of wetlands behind the Bradley's home in Lyndon Township. The easement owned by ITCTransmission already has Enbridge's crude oil Line 17 running through it. Line 79 will go to the right of the towers in the Bradley's back yard, the edge of which is marked by the flags.

Melanie Maxwell |

The easement is fairly large, and when the Bradley’s bought the house near the intersection of Farnsworth and Boyce roads six years ago, they never imagined the property they lease from ITC also would be in demand by Enbridge.

However, the easement currently contains Line 17. Enbridge had several different plans for where to place the new Line 79 in the area near the Bradley’s home, but Ztaise Bradley said they were only notified that their backyard would be leveled in the process Nov. 16.

Jason Manshum, spokesman for Enbridge, said the company has been working with easement and right-of-way issues since this fall.

Not only will the Bradley’s likely be losing their yard, their water well head is about 10 linear feet away from the new crude oil pipeline — something both Brendan and Ztaise Bradley worry will become a problem over time as the pipe ages.

With the $190 million addition of Line 79, the amount of crude oil flowing through Washtenaw County will nearly double: Line 17 has a capacity of 90,000 barrels per day, and Line 79 will have a capacity of 80,000 barrels per day.

The new pipe will be 20 inches in diameter, with walls three to four-tenths of an inch thick, depending on where it will be used. Enbridge previously has stated the thicker pipe will be used at road and railroad crossings, where the pipe will be enclosed in a protective casing.

Line 79 will be constructed in a similar fashion to Line 17, which is about 10 years old and buried about four to five feet underground. The lines will be about 25 feet apart from one another.

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement allowing the project to move forward May 24, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved permits Nov. 15 for Enbridge to build the pipeline through several wetland areas — including the wetland in the easement behind the Bradley’s house.


Kasmira Bradley, 6, plays in the sand Wednesday in the back yard of her Lyndon Township home. The Bradley's garden, play gym and protective barrier of trees will be flattened for the installation of the Enbridge pipeline.

Melanie Maxwell |

For that area, Ztaise Bradley said Enbridge plans to horizontally drill a path for the pipeline underneath the wetland instead of digging a trench through the area. When she asked the company to extend the horizontal drill underneath her back yard so it would not have to be leveled for the project, Ztaise Bradley said she was met with a negative response.

"I lease this land, too," Ztaise Bradley said. "Why is their project more important than my project?"

Frustrated by the apparent lack of flexibility on the part of the company to consider other options than razing their back yard, the Bradley's don't know when crews will be appearing behind their home with heavy equipment to clear trees and dig a trench for the pipe. Enbridge will pay the family for damages incurred with the loss of the stand of mature trees on the property -- but to the Bradley's, that won't make up for the shelter the trees provided from a large open field and the view of the power lines.

"My biggest request right now is to have someone who makes a decision come out and stand on my deck and look at my back yard," Ztaise Bradley said.

Manshum was not familiar with the Bradley's property or issues with the project, but said the company's policy was to work on a case-by-case basis to solve problems.

“We’re making sure we’re being a good neighbor and working with them,” Manshum said. “Each landowner has their own agent with Enbridge. That’s why we take our time to work diligently with each individual landowner.”

Enbridge’s impending work is evident down the street from the Bradley home on Farnsworth Road, where signs have been placed this week indicating a service road that will be built for the project.

As early as Friday, Manshum said construction crews could begin clearing trees and brush from the path of the new pipeline, and could begin marking existing utility lines in its path. Manshum did not know the exact location where work would begin.

Excavation work to install the trench for the new pipe would not begin until Monday at the earliest, Manshum said, explaining the exact start date for construction was currently unknown.

Pipeline construction will continue throughout the winter, with a project completion date in March, Manshum said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Dec 1, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

No one wants to bring up the underlying issues in all of this but I will say that home construction (residential developments, etc. ) are generally considered to be invasions of wild lands in the first place. I do sympathize but home ownership is a crap shoot anyway (unless you are very wealthy). To agonize over a previously known vulnerability isn't exactly rational - especially given that such companies as Enbridge are very aware of the bad publicity and potential for government intervention such situations present. If this family had to lease that property - then they should automatically assume the worst from the standpoint of their expectations vs those of corporations/land owners. That this is leasable land suggests that the land in question belonged to a company and that company obtained ownership out of a self interest / self protection motive. Now what could go wrong here? LOL!


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

So the Bradley's are saying that digging a ditch through the backyard in the picture would actually make it worse? I'm not too sure.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 6:45 a.m.

Haha, I wasnt going to make that comment because I figured everyone could make that assumption on their own. Now my only gripe is trying to figure out whether this particular family came to or did go to them trying to stir up some drama over some non sense?? I am an avid reader but if stories like this continue to surface I will never give the them a hit again. Its bad enough i have to keep clicking that darn corner banner that folds over as i am reading.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

Ever notice that no matter how much drilling, fracking added pipelines etc.. are done , the price never comes down on any form of energy ?


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

Where is the conservative outrage over the overreach of government? Or, perhaps there is only outrage when it doesn't conflict with the oil industry's self interest.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Where is government in the article? it is business and legal contracts.

Superior Twp voter

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

While I usually appreciate your work, Ms. Biolchini, it is just so obvious what you are trying to say here. As in "BIG OIL" = bad.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

Enbridge pipeline = Hits


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

I agree that the story misrepresents the situation and makes the family look like victims. A secondary 'use-of easment' is more commonly seen when cable companies put their lines on existing electric utility poles on an easement. Michigan law (and reviewed by courts and Appeals Courts allows all of this. If they would bother to get a copy of the registered deed, they would have seen the easment in black and white and red all over it as far as having a potential nature center behind their home. I ran into this when cable companies presumed there was an easment for power lines and poles on my property. But, there is none. The poles were installed by the previous owner to service the house and barns. Lawyers and courst said "remove them". Th writer should also add a line to the Michigan Law regarding the Crude Oil and Petroleum Act of 1929 [] which makes this matter moot.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Many of these pipeline workers are like the gold prospectors of yore. They vagabond along, sometimes for years, until a spot finally catches their eye and they settle in. Reclusive by training, and often furtive by nature, they secrete themselves in some unlikely copse or bramble where they proceed to lurk unobserved. Some post-doc cultural anthropologist should seek a grant to find why they generally prefer areas rich in ham radio signals.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

This story is so misleading and mis interpreted that it makes me sick. There is no wrong doing here, and all the desperate attempts by the writer to make the family look like they are going to be changed forever by this project are just plain silly. This land was, and likely never would be owned by the family or anyone else. There is a good reason its an "easement" and own by a energy company. You want to imply that a oil pipeline properly burried AT LEAST 4ft below the ground level that will be HIGHLY UNLIKELY to ever have any ill effect to these particular people, especially when you compare it to the high tension, transmission power lines over head that could potentially cause much greater harm to someone under them. Also that yard and house looks pretty miserably kept, Like another commenter said "I would imagine the yard will be left in much better shape then before the work"


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

NBD. The place is a dump. The pipeline will temporarily disrupt the ugly back yard that's not pristine by any measure. Sod will be laid down at the pipeline's expense and after six months, the homeowner won't know the pipeline is there. It operates soundlessly and the chance of a spill is infinitesimal. The homeowner will be able to claim a tax deduction for property value.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 6:52 a.m.

mermaid, I dont know what logic your brain uses but when theres a news story making some dramatic claims about a RESEARCHED, DEVELOPED, PLANNED pipeline going in to a right of way on property that is not owned by said "homeowners" and all the homeowners and/or news writer can say is "this will dramatically effect them, their well, and there back yard" and then a picture is posted of a backyard that looks worse than most foreclosed properties, I think it may warrant a little criticism from the public.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Dan, I agree, the place is a dump and the yard will be fixed by the pipeline and any thing they do will be an improvement. Mermaid72...we are NOT all "wealthy suburbanites"'s called "pride of ownership".


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

The place is a dump? Ugly back yard? No big deal? It is their home, and just because it does not meet up to the standards of wealthy suburbanites does not mean it should be subjected to being ripped up and used as a carrier for crude. This is country, we do not live like those of you in the city and we certainly do not appreciate mean-spirited comments.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Moving into a house that is under high tension electrical transmission lines is a bad place to start.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

The owner of the property - ITC - gave permission for Enbridge to install the pipeline. If the neighbors are unhappy, they can stop leasing the property, or renegotiate the lease. If it endangers their well, they have a case against Enbridge.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

they didn't read the terms of their lease. utilities trump gardens. 3 months after the pipeline is in they will never know that it is there.

michael Limmer

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

I agree. Having lived in Toledo where oil pipelines abound, the backyard will be back to normal, albeit without the hills and mature trees. A nice hot meal might convince the grader to recreate the hill. Don't plant trees over the pipeline, they will simply be cut down at the next inspection. From a health standpoint, I would be much more concerned about the high voltage lines than the pipeline.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

I would certainly not want an oil pipeline anywhere near my house. I totally get that. So, I exercise my own good judgement and would never buy a house where that was a possibility. If I wanted to save money, then I would buy a house would possible negative possibilities. The owners chose this house at this location, received a better price because of the easement, and now hopefully can convince Enbridge to use the horizontal drilling method. A good solution could be to offer to Enbridge the difference in cost to do the horizontal drilling.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Sorry for the goof. Meant to say: If I wanted to save money, then I would buy a house with chances for negative outcomes.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

ITC owns the property. The family leases that easement from ITC to use as their backyard. Sounds like they should stop leasing it if they're not happy with the situation.

Stan Hyne

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

They probably pay a fee to legally recognize the property is not theirs. Without this the Bradleys could claim ownership after a period of time.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

As they probably pay a fee for that usage, don't you think they have a legitimate request, that is to use underground drilling for the small portion of the line that runs through their yard? Or, is the Customer wrong in this case?


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

The author states that "Much of the Bradley's backyard is in the middle of an easement owned by ITC Transmission, the parent company of Consumer's Energy, which has transmission towers in the area directly behind the Bradley's house." ITC does not own Consumers Energy. Transmission in Michigan that was owned by Consumers and DTE was spun off in to a completely separate company. She needs to some basic research before typing the first letter.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

This is called civilization - get used to it. ...the fact that they've burdened their children with those names says a lot about them.

Superior Twp voter

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

You got that right....


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Would you "feel" better if they had named them Trig, Track or Piper?


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

Another non-story from AA dot com. They bought property with an easement "but never thought they would be used!?" Seriously? There is no issue. These are just more adult children who don't like the agreements they've made or the laws that govern them. Whaaaaaa!


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Enbridge pipelines have almost 800 spills in the last 10 years. Most are fairly small, but one released between 800 and 1 million gallons of tar sands oil into the K-Zoo River. "Federal pipeline safety regulators have announced that Enbridge, the Canadian pipeline company responsible for spilling over a million gallons of tar sands into Michigan's Kalamazoo River watershed in 2010, likely violated two dozen regulations in connection with that spill. In a letter to Enbridge, regulators at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) outlined each of the 24 violations and proposed a $3.7 million civil penalty, the largest fine ever proposed by the agency. Of course, this penalty is dwarfed by the costs of the tar sands spill, which has become the most costly pipeline accident in U.S. history, with damage and cleanup costs approaching a billion dollars."


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Truly ridiculous that Enbridge isn't held responsible for the full costs of their blatant blunder, which affected so many people. While I am aware of just how much convenience it provides, I continue to be absolutely disgusted with the oil industry and their nonstop oversights and spills.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

IL: a tank in a tank farm with an enclosing berm to retain the oil.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

I see Enbridge had a 900 barrel spill in Illinois yesterday. Localized, they claim, and cleaned up the same day. They must have non absorbing soil in Illinois.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Why are there multiple references to them as the "Bradley's"? Does their name end with an apostrophe (e.g., Ztaise Bradley')?

Superior Twp voter

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

I dunno, but those are some kind of names!


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

SO many people read and see what they want to. I read the comments from posters and it is obvious reading comprehension is not a strong suit, but laying blame and ascribing thoughts to other people are. What the owners want is for the company to use a drilling method to put in the line, not a rip and shred approach. They know/knew they have a easement running in their yard. I don't see any quotes from them saying that Enbridge should not be able to use the easement. Plus, it looks like that received about 3 weeks notice when this project has probably been in the works for months or years. If this was the US government doing this the many anti-government posters we have here would be going nuts with outrage. But if a corporation filled with bureaucrats does it, they fall all over themselves to defend the corporate entity over the citizen. I am confused about one thing, who OWNS the property in question? The article says that the Homeowners LEASE the property from ITC. Why do they lease an easement from an easement?


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

hey clown. news for you, the conservatives would love that extension. The tree huggers can't abide any more convenience for cars. if, this, if that. blah, blah, blah. More strawmen. Try again. Yep, the truth hurts. Sorry to hurt you like that.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

The truth hurts, EYE. Everyday I see so-called conservatives defending corporations doing what those same cons whine and cry about government doing. If the govt wants to reduce medicare costs by reducing smoking, the cons weep and moan about the gubment telling us how to live. If a company wants to reduce it's healthcare costs and tells it's employees to quit smoking or be fired, the cons get behind that. If A2 wanted to put a sewer through this property the cons would be up in arms, regardless of what easements exist. Just look at the Huron Pkwy expansion. That has been planned since the 60's, but do you see HP connected to M-14 yet?


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

"If this was the US government doing this the many anti-government posters we have here would be going nuts with outrage. But if a corporation filled with bureaucrats does it, they fall all over themselves to defend the corporate entity over the citizen" Blah, Blah, Blah. Try another strawman. This one is one fire. Along with your pants.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

When referring to the Bradleys, why is an apostrophe consistently used? It's referring to something plural not possessive so no need for an apostrophe (& if it were possessive the apostrophe is in the wrong spot). How does that get approved for posting? Come on, writers...

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Plural possessive: the Bradleys' stuff


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Seems to me that they could have moved the pipeline 10 feet farther away, since enbridge had to lease the land anyway from ITC. and how can a company lease the same land 2 times


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Sorry - that reply belongs with the comment from jscd91 about apostrophes!


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

How about the contorted syntax of the caption: "The pipeline will be buried in an easement owned by *a power company that the family leases.*" Really?

average joe

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Based on the picture, the house was built too close to the back property line in the first place.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Perhaps the house was there before the easement, just perhaps. Eminent domain often does funny things like moving property lines and changing ownership.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

They probably got the house at a bargain price because of the easement. Now that the property ow er is actually doing something on his own property, they don't like it. You can't have it both ways.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

'Somebody is doing something on their property and I don't like it.' With an attitude like that, they should move to AA. They would fit right in. Maybe start a camp or something.....


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

You didn't check yesterday clownfish. There was nothing asinine going on around here, so I didn't comment. So, to answer your question - yes. Thanks for asking.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Are you able to go one day without a diatribe on one of the nicest cities in Michigan?


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

Let's hope all can work together to make it the best for all involved.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Waaahh. You don't own the property.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.



Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Who does own the property?


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

"The easement is fairly large, and when the Bradley's bought the house near the intersection of Farnsworth and Boyce roads six years ago, they never imagined the property they lease from ITC also would be in demand by Enbridge.' Never did the research.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

@GoNavy - Prior to this article you new that oil companies can negotiate easement rights with power companies on your property without your input or say? Who knows that??


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

"Never did research" in this instance is rather like crystal ball gazing, isn't it? Of course, many Ann Arborites have exceptional mentalist skills, especially when hindsighting others foresight.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

If they knew it was their they should have realised it was possible to be used by someone in the future. I am sure the crew who puts the pipline in will leave it in just as good if not better shape than it is now.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

I think you have never dealt with Enbridge. They do not leave things in as good a condition as they find them.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Really, leave it in better shape? Losing all those big trees, having a crude oil pipeline 10' from their wellhead? I think not, what a shame. Their property value is now ziltch!


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

"The easement is fairly large, and when the Bradley's bought the house near the intersection of Farnsworth and Boyce roads six years ago, they never imagined the property they lease from ITC also would be in demand by Enbridge"

Stan Hyne

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

If I read the article correctly there is already a oil pipeline in the easement, line 17.