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Oil pipeline fix safeguards St. Clair River

by Candice Miller on June 22, 2011

Editorial: June 21, 2011
Oil pipeline fix safeguards St. Clair River
The Times Herald|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p
The waters of the St. Clair River are a bit safer, thanks to Enbridge Inc. and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township.
The Calgary, Alberta, company finished work last week to replace part of an oil pipeline between Marysville and Sarnia beneath the St. Clair River.
A dent in a foot-long section of the pipeline was discovered in 2009. A 3,500-foot pipeline segment, installed in February and early March, was successfully tied into Line 6B, an underground fuel transport system from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia.
The dent had not been a pressing safety concern. That changed in July, when part of the line broke near Marshall. Nearly 800,000 gallons of crude oil polluted the Kalamazoo River.
As reported, Enbridge found more than 200 irregularities along Line B, which was built in 1969, but the St. Clair River dent was not a pipeline problem the company planned to fix.
Miller, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wanted the company to address the St. Clair River pipeline. She made her feelings known during the committee’s September hearings on the Kalamazoo River spill. In a letter sent in August to committee Chairman Jim Oberstar, she outlined the reasons.
“There are multiple water intake pipes along the St. Clair River that provide the drinking water for millions in Southeast Michigan,” Miller wrote.
“The river also flows into Lake St. Clair and on to the Detroit River and Lake Erie. An accident similar to the event that occurred in Marshall would be simply catastrophic to our region. Not only would it negatively affect our drinking water supply, but could possibly shut down one of the busiest shipping lanes in our nation and have a devastating impact on our economy.”
How much of a threat the flawed St. Clair River pipeline posed is uncertain. The Kalamazoo oil spill was an obvious indication that defects along the line, especially those in areas where a rupture could bring dire consequences, require the most effective safety precautions.
The completed project is welcome news for the Blue Water Area and the U.S. and Canadian communities along the St. Clair River that depend on its water. Miller’s efforts are a commendable defense of the environment and public safety.

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