CERESCO, Mich. — A homeowner in Ceresco called a federal agency to alert them to a situation involving the collapse of a crane on an Enbridge construction site that was caught on video.
Dave Gallagher said this incident happened right in front of his home on E Drive.
He said the pipe that was dangling from the crane fell nearly 20 feet into a trench, pulling the crane over.
Gallagher told us that it then was re-used without what he felt was proper inspection.
The pipeline is part of the new line that will replace the old 6-B line that ruptured in July of 2010, spilling more than 840,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and surrounding area.
Gallagher’s home only sits about 12 feet from the Enbridge construction site and the new pipe.
“I saw the crane tip over and the pipe drop into the bottom of the trench,” said Gallagher.
He was recording some of the construction with activist-turned filmmaker John Bolenbaugh, a former oil and pipeline worker who is shooting footage for a future documentary.
“There’s rocks at the bottom of this and if those rocks hit that coating, and it chips away, you can have corrosive rust,” said Bolenbaugh.
Gallagher’s concern arose when the company resumed installation of the same pipe.
He was worried the welds or the protective coating may have been compromised from the drop.
“The pipe was not inspected. It just remained in the bottom of the trench,” said Gallagher.
Enbridge Spokesperson Jason Manshum released a statement about the incident, saying:
“…the pipe was lifted out of the ditch and inspected by the senior lead coating inspector, the assistance chief inspector and a utility inspector for all possible damage. The assessment was that no damage occurred as a result of this situation. Work resumed and the pipe was installed into its final position and backfilled in the area that did not have sheet piling.”
However, Gallagher still feels it was not lifted out and inspected properly.
“The trench was filled with water and mud so nobody wanted to go down there. They never once raised the pipe up out of the trench to set if off to the side, maybe put it on some blocking to inspect,” said Gallagher. “It was toward sunset. Nobody shined lights on it to go take a look at it. Of course nobody crawled inside of it.”
Gallagher called the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration or PHMSA.
Inspectors from the regional office were there on Monday.
Catherine Washabaugh was on the scene watching Wednesday.
PHMSA’s public affairs officer, Damon Hill, says officials talked to Enbridge after they got Gallagher’s call.
He said both parties agreed at that time it was best to dig up the pipe that had fallen and replace it.
Hill said companies, or operators, like Enbridge are supposed to report issues to their office.
He says there is no evidence that Enbridge would not have reported the incident, but he says he appreciates Gallagher’s call.
“What if I wasn’t here to see the crane trip over,” said Gallagher. ” My concern is it would be buried behind here and we wouldn’t be going through this process.”
Hill says that PHMSA will be monitoring the situation until that section of pipeline is installed and will review their findings to see if there is any action that should be taken.
Enbridge Full Statement on January, 8 incident:
At approximately 4:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 8, equipment lowering a 461’ section of pipe on Enbridge Line 6B Phase 2 Replacement Project tilted onto its front boom. The situation took place near Ceresco, Mich. No one was injured.
As the boom started to tilt, the boom operator was able to lower the pipe into the center of the ditch, where it remained 2-3’ above the ground until dropping to the bottom of the ditch. At no point did the pipe make contact with the sheet piling supporting the ditch. The other operators were able to maintain control of their equipment during this situation. The tractor was righted and the pipe was lifted out of the ditch and inspected by the senior lead coating inspector, the assistance chief inspector and a utility inspector for all possible damage. The assessment was that no damage occurred as a result of this situation. Work resumed and the pipe was installed into its final position and backfilled in the area that did not have sheet piling.
Following the situation, Enbridge was contacted by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and suggested that Enbridge remove and replace the section of pipe. The initial assessment of the pipe’s integrity – an assessment that was made by three on-the-ground inspectors the day of the situation found no damage to the pipe. Nonetheless, to dispel any concerns or doubts about the integrity and safety of the pipe, the company has made the decision to remove and replace the section of pipe involved in the Jan. 8 situation.
In addition to the initial assessment, the pipe would still be subjected to additional routine non-destructive testing such hydrostatic testing, as well as a caliper tool run to check for shape changes or dents. A post-backfill coating survey will also be performed. Enbridge expects that this testing will determine that no damage occurred to the pipe or welds.
Enbridge’s first and highest priority is safety – for the public and for the company’s employees and construction contractors. While situations like this are uncommon, we are reviewing what happened on Jan. 8 and will take steps to ensure it is not repeated.
– Jason Manshum