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Public comments about Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline invited at Monday meeting


SUPERIOR, Wis. (WSAU) -- A new petroleum pipeline and a replacement to an older pipeline bringing oil to Superior have been proposed. Wisconsinites will be able to express any concerns they have with that proposal Monday.

Pipeline company Enbridge is proposing the Sandpiper project, which would bring crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in the Dakotas about 600 miles across Minnesota to a refinery in Superior.

Ben Callan is the Department of Natural Resources Water Regulations and Zoning Specialist. He says like any project, the Sandpiper proposal will need an environmental impact statement, and Monday’s meeting is one opportunity for people to express their views about the two pipe projects. “So, we have an application from Enbridge Energy to construct a pair of liquid petroleum pipelines, and the department will draft an environmental impact statement, but we want the public to help us frame what should be included.”

Callan says the proposal has to go through similar scrutiny in Minnesota and North Dakota, and the Wisconsin portion is just a small piece of the total project.  “The overall length of Sandpiper is about 600 miles from North Dakota, through Minnesota, and into Superior. The portion that impacts Wisconsin directly is about 14 miles.”

The Superior meeting Monday is not the only way people can express comments and concerns. Callan says the DNR will continue to take comments, including written comments.  “We have a fairly long comment period, and that we’ll accept comments through the 30th of September.”

As far as the Sandpiper project itself, Enbridge’s Lorraine Little says the company is doing everything possible to design a safe and modern pipeline.  “We spent 88,000 hours surveying that Sandpiper right-of-way. This year, we’re looking at another 75,000 hours, so there’s tons of review that goes in, but not only that but, the regulatory agencies then that oversee all of that information and decide on how to permit the project.”

Little says Enbridge has invested heavily in new technology and pipeline monitoring systems to prevent and detect leaks.  “In the last two years alone, we have spent about four billion dollars on upgrades to our system, maintenance to our system. We’re looking at new technology, both technology that relates to our internal inspection tools, really investing heavily in, I guess, really increasing the sensitivity of those tools.”  She adds, “The goal is really to prevent anything from happening in the first place, and so we’re looking at different leak detection technologies or these different inline inspection technologies, these different control center procedures, and all of that goes into operating a safer pipeline system.”

Little says Enbridge has several field representatives contacting landowners along the proposed corridor.  “The goal is to negotiate an amicable arrangement, but not only the easement and that arrangement, but we’re also talking with those folks about if the pipeline goes across your property and here’s the way that we’ve designed it, how does that work for you?”

If built, the Sandpiper line from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota will be the sixth pipeline coming into Enbridge’s Superior terminal. Part of this project is to replace one of the other pipelines known as Line 3 from the Minnesota Line to the terminal.

The public comment meeting is being held at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in the Main Conference Room #621 from 3:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Lorraine Little commented about the project on the syndicated radio show, “The Big Wild” during the weekend.


More information about the Sandpiper proposal is available at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. Written comments can also be emailed to DNROEEAAComments@wisconsin.gov.