New Enbridge crude oil pipeline to be built through Washtenaw County amid statewide protest
Courtesy of Enbridge
The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement allowing the project to move forward May 24.
This week, about 30 environmental activists gathered in Lansing inside the state Capitol to protest Enbridge’s planned expansions for its crude oil lines across Michigan.
The root of the protestors’ cause is the 2010 oil spill from Enbridge’s Line 6B that let more than 800,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Reviews on the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board found the company and federal regulators missed opportunities to stop or reduce the oil spill.
Enbridge has defended its plans to replace the portion of existing Line 6B in Indiana and Michigan, which was built in 1969.
The new spur of Enbridge pipeline that will run through Washtenaw County will take oil from the interstate Line 6B and divert it toward Detroit.
The new, 35-mile-long pipeline will run from Stockbridge in Ingham County to Freedom Junction in Washtenaw County’s Freedom Township, which is west of Ann Arbor. It will run parallel to the existing Line 17 that is currently on the same route.
The new line, called Line 79, will consist of steel pipe 20 inches in diameter.
- View a copy of the company's plans for Line 79 here: Enbridge_Line79_plans.pdf
The pipe’s wall are three or four tenths of an inch thick, depending on where it will be used. At road and railroad crossings, the thicker pipe will be used and will be enclosed in a casing, said Joe Martucci, spokesman for Enbridge. In open country, the thinner-walled pipe will be used and without a special casing.
The pipe is coated with a fusion-bonded epoxy coating applied at the steel mill that will help prevent corrosion, Martucci said.
Seven miles of Line 79 will be in Ingham County, four miles of the line will be in Jackson County and 24 miles will be in Washtenaw County.
At Freedom Junction, the new line of crude oil will be connected to 29 miles of leased pipeline, owned by Wolverine Pipe Line Company, which runs east across much of the southern half of Washtenaw County.
The crude oil will then be fed to a new metering facility in Van Buren Township near Romulus to feed to the Detroit refinery of Marathon Petroleum Corporation LLC.
The existing Line 17 serves both Detroit and Toledo's BP-Husky Refinery, but has been running under apportionment - meaning at capacity - because of increased demand by both businesses.
“By building this new pipeline, it will free up capacity on the existing line to deliver more volumes to Toledo market,” Martucci said, explaining how Line 17 has limited service to Detroit and Toledo with the current line.
Line 17 has a capacity of 90,000 barrels per day. Line 79 will have a capacity of 80,000 barrels per day.
As oil and gas activity is regulated at the state level, Enbridge is not required to gain permission of local authorities for its private land leases. The company is currently in the process of extending the lease agreements it has with existing landowners, and gaining new leases where needed, Martucci said.
When it comes to the oil and gas industry, Enbridge serves as the shipping company for the commodity. It does not buy or sell oil.
The new pipeline will allow Marathon to have a more dedicated flow of crude oil so the company can make use of expansions it has made to its refinery operations, Martucci said.
Once Enbridge selects a contractor for the project, the flow of construction will be determined. Martucci said about half of the laborers, equipment operators and truck drivers needed for the project will be hired out of local union halls by the contractor.
It’s unknown as to which end of the pipeline will see construction first. A new junction has to be built in Freedom Township to accommodate the project, Martucci said.
Line 79’s route weaves its way through county parcels and around lakes. About half of its route is adjacent to power line corridors, and the remaining half of the route is private land.
The pipeline will be buried in the ground about 25 feet away from the existing Line 17, Martucci said. The top of the pipe will be four feet underground.
Line 17 is at least 10 years old, Martucci said. Enbridge has a permanent land easement for the property on which the pipeline rests.
Although the land where the pipeline is buried cannot be built on or support deep-rooted trees, it can be farmed, Martucci said.
Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, email@example.com or on Twitter.