Enbridge plans to replace entire St. Clair River pipeline

Enbridge, the owner of a pipeline that ruptured near Marshall, Mich., told Lambton County Council on Wednesday (Nov. 24) that it plans to put in an entirely new pipeline below the St. Clair River are well underway and once permitting is done, could be started in January and complete by March 2011.

The company, which says it operates some 50,000 miles of pipelines, ), said it was taking a conservative approach to the pipeline integrity issue, especially following the Marhall leak, which was from the same "6b" line that begins in Griffin, Indiana, and ends in Sarnia.

The alternative would have been to try to repair a dent that Enbridge General Manager Brian Black, who spoke to council, said consultants believe was likely present even when the pipeline was first laid in 1969.

"It is smoothed over and appears to have been there a long time," he noted. "There is also no evidence of recent damage, especially given the fact that the coating on the pipeline hasn't been disturbed."

Black said Enbridge plans to use directional drilling, starting from the U.S. side of the river and welding sections of pipe on the Canadian side. Once the pipe is tested it will be pulled through the hole and secured.

The existing pipe, Black said, will be left in place once it is purged of oil and filled with nitrogen, an inert gas.

The project will also involve adding new valves at each end of the St. Clair section of the pipeline.

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