Enbridge said it intended to begin repairs to Line 14 late Saturday after making “excellent progress” in cleanup, allowing for visual inspection of the line. But it still did not know what had caused the incident and provided no estimate on when the 318,000-barrel-per-day Line 14 would resume service.
An official with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said two inspectors were at the site Sunday and that all of the pooled oil had been cleaned up.
“The line has been uncovered to begin removing the failed section and send it to a metallurgical lab for examination,” PHMSA spokesman Damon Hill said.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are also on site, Enbridge said in a statement.
An image of the area posted on Enbridge’s U.S. Web site showed a patch of damp, blackened earth near a stand of trees. Enbridge found some oil on two small farm ponds, but said the ponds did not connect to moving waterways and that drinking wells did not seem to be affected.
Although the spill appeared to be relatively small and quickly contained, it comes at a delicate time for Enbridge, which suffered another leak in Alberta a month ago and endured a scathing report from U.S. safety regulators over its handling of the Michigan incident in 2010.
“Enbridge is fast becoming to the Midwest what BP was to the Gulf of Mexico, posing troubling risks to the environment,” Rep. Edward J. Markey (Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.
“The company must be forthcoming about this entire incident, and deserves a top-to-bottom review of their safety culture, procedures and standards,” said Markey, a critic of increasing imports of Canada’s heavy oil sands crude.
Canada is the largest source of foreign crude for the United States, supplying more than 2.4 million barrels per day of the more than 8.3 million per day imported by the nation in July. Enbridge’s lines, the world’s largest crude oil pipeline system, carry the lion’s share of those shipments.
Just two months ago, Enbridge kicked off one of its biggest expansions, announcing multibillion-dollar projects aimed at moving western-Canada and North Dakota oil to Eastern refineries and eliminating costly bottlenecks in the Midwest.
Line 14 is a 24-inch-diameter pipe that was installed in 1998, making it a relatively new line. Enbridge said it had been inspected twice in the past five years.