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Posted: 04/23/14

Above, Enbridge representative Daniel Dancer speaks with Bruce Township resident Richard Rohrbeck about the specifics of Enbridge's $1.6 billion project to replace crude oil pipeline.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Enbridge fields questions
on 6B pipeline project

Residents unhappy with tree trimming

Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce Township residents and elected officials sought information straight from Enbridge Energy Company about a pipeline going through their neighborhoods.
       Enbridge held an informational meeting on April 15 for residents and stakeholders to learn details about its $1.6 billion project to replace 285 miles of its 6B pipeline that runs from Griffith, In. to Marysville, Mi.
       About 210 miles of the pipeline goes through Michigan, with Enbridge prepping to replace the last 50 miles starting mid-May and finishing in the fall. A portion of this section will run through northern Bruce Township along roads like 36 Mile and Reid.
       Enbridge is laying the pipeline next to its existing 6B line. The old line will be deactivated, cleaned and filled with nitrogen and capped.
       Enbridge engineers, construction managers and others were in attendance to answer questions, many of which revolved around safety. Mitch Repka, manager of pipeline engineering and construction, said the new line features technology like an anti-corrosive, fusion-bonded epoxy coating to prevent leaks and remote monitoring.
       "We've got a state-of-the-art facility in Canada that has been significantly updated to remotely open and close valves, monitor flow rates," he said.
       To install the pipeline, a ditch seven to 10 feet deep and 10 feet wide is required. Enbridge keeps the topsoil and subsoil separate and returns them in the rightful order.
       Repka said the project will be completed in the fall, but cleanup and restoration will take place in 2015.
       Jennifer Smith, Enbridge spokeswoman, said these meetings inform landowners and governments about a project that has a big impact, and provides them a chance to work out deals for property restoration.
       "There is large equipment, there is going to be a lot of different crews on the right-of-way," she said. "We want to be as open and transparent as possible."
       Richard Rohrbeck, a resident on Reid Road, said he found the meeting helpful, and considers Enbridge to be "good neighbors."
       "They have been very free with the information and always try to be very helpful," he said.
       The project was approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission in January 2013.
Tree trimming

       Others were not as happy with Enbridge, saying it was being "deceitful" by trimming branches off of large trees.
       "The more you fight, the more they fight back," said Michelle Schuchard, a resident on 36 Mile Road. "Now we get trunks. Go down 36 Mile Road, they got rid of the shade."
       Earlier this month, Enbridge came to an agreement with Macomb County and Bruce Township to save 12 large trees on a three-mile right-of-way along 36 Mile Road.
       However, on April 15, Supervisor Richard Cory received a call from a resident saying the company was cutting branches that hung over the side of the road.
       He said when he heard about the trimming he called the county, who in turn stopped the trimmers from cutting any other trees. He said four of them were trimmed before they ceased.
       "There is not a lot of recourse, those limbs are gone," Cory said. "I was really disappointed, I was hurt that they went back on their word."
       Smith said the trimming was to make room for equipment like cranes that are required during the construction process.
       "It's really a safety issue," she said. "Instead of having the equipment clip the branches off and falling, we went through and clipped them."
       She said trimming the trees would reduce stress on the trees, as trimming them would be healthier than clipping them with equipment.
       District 7 County Commissioner Don Brown said Enbridge violated its permit by trimming the trees, but is working with the county to come up with restitution efforts.
       "When you build expectations that trees will not be cut and then start trimming them down it's not building trust," he said. "I've been told they regret that happening."
       He said he understood the company's reasons for trimming the branches, but believes the concern wasn't brought up by Enbridge.
       The agreement to save the 12 trees also included replacing 150 trees, a $18,000 beautification grant for Bruce Township and restoring 36 Mile Road with limestone.

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