Nearly three years after the Enbridge oil spill, the company is installing new pipe that will replace the old line that was responsible for the spill near Marshall.
Line 6B was the pipeline that ruptured in July, 2010. A new line that’s under construction will eventually replace that old pipeline.
It will run from Griffith, Indiana to Maryville, Michigan just south of Port Huron, right next to the old line.
Sections of the new pipe are currently under construction south of Menon.
The 1,200 member crew installing that pipe will be divided into two sections.
Enbridge Spokesperson Jason Manshum says 600 people will be working from Mendon west to Griffith.
He says another 600 crew members will be working from Jackson west to Mendon on the new pipeline.
“This is the automatic welding process that`s occurring out here,” said Tom Hodge, project director.
Hodge said the new pipe is being installed assembly-line style.
He says the white welding shacks on the dig sites are hoisted on cranes that follow the pipeline construction.
Workers crawl in and out of the shacks at each stop to weld the pipe.
“We`ve got an automated welder in there and a couple operators,” said Hodge.
In one holding lot in St. Joesph County, 115 miles of new steel pipe from Canada are stacked, ready for transport.
In a large portion of the new line, Enbridge will be using a larger pipe, at 36 inches in diameter, as opposed to the old pipe, which was only 30 inches in diameter.
The new, larger pipes, can pump 500,000 barrels of oil a day.
Hodge said with “more horsepower” they could pump 800,000 barrels in the future.
“There will be some additional pumps installed that could pump that up to 570,000 barrels a day,” said Hodge. “Ultimately, if we added horsepower, we’ll have the capacity of pumping 800,000 barrels a day. But so far, we have not planned to install that extra horsepower. We have no plans to do that at this time.”
That’s compared to the approximately 250,000 barrels that are currently being transported on the old Line 6B.
“When line 6 B is replaced with brand new pipe, we`ll be running at 500,000 barrels,” said Jason Manshum, Enbridge spokesperson. “That again, gets us back to our original capacity with a little extra for that growing demand.”
“Refineries in Michigan and the Midwest have recently expanded. They’ve upgraded their capacity, because consumers like you and I are using more and more petroleum,” said Manshum.
The new line is being installed about 25-feet from the old line which is currently pumping and transporting oil.
“We want to avoid any encroachment on that existing line, we don`t want to dig into it, we don`t want to put any heavy loads on top of it,” said Hodge.
Enbridge said the old line will be taken out of service.
That has caused some concerns for critics that Enbridge will re-start the old line as well.
Manshum said that is not the case.
“The existing line will be deactivated, which means it will be left in place, but it will be capped in multiple locations,” said Manshum. “It will be cleaned of any remaining product and then it will be filled with Nitrogen. You fill it with nitrogen to keep pressure on the inside, it helps to prevent any internal corrosion while the pipe is sitting there dormant.”
Enbridge hopes to have all the new pipeline into the ground and operational by early 2014.