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Enbridge Finds Another Oil Leak

Tue, 09/14/2010 - 6:40am
TAMMY WEBBER, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) — A Canadian company that is working to clean up oil spills outside Chicago and in southern Michigan has closed a third pipeline after a possible leak was found in New York.

Enbridge Inc. said a 91-mile pipeline that runs from Ontario, Canada, to New York was shut down after about a gallon of petroleum-based product was found during a sewer installation project Monday. The company said all the product has been cleaned up and crews were working to find the source.

It's the third pipeline Enbridge has shut down since July. Enbridge also owns a pipeline that leaked near Chicago last week and one from Indiana to Ontario that spilled oil into a southern Michigan waterway in July.

In Illinois, crews on Monday removed a 12-foot section of pipe at the site of a spill that has led to a spike in regional gas prices. Federal officials said it could take weeks to clean up that contamination.

A 2-inch diameter hole was found in the bottom of the pipe directly above a water main that passes perpendicular to the pipe, and two holes were found in the top of the water main, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Matthew Nicholson said.

The cause of that leak won't be known until the NTSB dissects and tests the pipe in a laboratory, Nicholson said. The problem was discovered Thursday in Romeoville by local water department workers responding to a complaint from a business owner about the water line, Nicholson said.

The 34-inch oil pipeline, which runs 465 miles from Superior, Wis., to Griffith, Ind., was 5 feet underground.

The total volume of the spill was not yet known, said Sam Borries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's on-scene coordinator. By late Sunday, Enbridge had captured about 12,100 barrels of an oil and water mixture, about half of which was oil.

Borries said the oil that was pushed to the surface reached a retention pond and the town's wastewater treatment plant. The continuing recovery could take weeks, he said, and the company must excavate contaminated soil and test groundwater.

Gina Jordan, a spokeswoman for Calgary-based Enbridge, said it was too soon to know when the pipeline could begin moving oil again.

That determination will be made by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. A call to the agency's Midwest office was not returned Monday.

Enbridge also did not know how long it would be until the 70,000-barrel-a-day line from Westover, Ontario to Kiantone, N.Y., would be restarted. That line was shut down "as an abundance of caution," said Spokesman Glenn Herchak.

"We're undertaking our investigation and as soon as we determine a completion of that investigation, we'll obviously be working to get that line up and running as soon as possible," Herchak said.

The company has said it continues to treat the spill near Marshall, Mich., where at least 800,000 gallons of oil leaked into a waterway in July, "as a top priority." The company does not know when that pipeline will be restarted. A congressional hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on that spill.

The Illinois spill pushed wholesale and retail gasoline prices higher, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

He said wholesale gas prices in the Midwest were about 30 cents per gallon higher than the West Coast and 15 to 20 cents per gallon higher than the East Coast.

Kloza said motorists in Warren, Ind., have been stung with the biggest retail price hikes. Pump prices there have soared 34.7 cents per gallon since Sept. 1. Boyd, Ky., saw an increase of 34.3 cents per gallon in the same time, and Hillsdale, Mich. saw prices jump 32.4 cents per gallon.

___

Associated Press writers Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y., and Chris Kahn in New York contributed to this report.

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