Although Enbridge Pipeline’s petroleum pipeline into Van Buren Township is regulated by federal and state agencies, on July 11 the company voluntarily brought to the Planning Commission for review its plans for a new meter station off Hannan Road.
Enbridge agreed to follow suggestions for landscaping and design of the new meter station, which will be along the Lower Huron Metropark border on the west at the end of a private road that intersects Hannan Road between Wabash and Superior streets. The existing private gravel drive that also serves the residence next door to the site will be paved and Enbridge will maintain it.
The site is related to the Sunoco, Buckeye and Wolverine Pipelines that already are in place underground in that area, some since the early 1900s.
The parcel will include facilities to launch and receive necessary internal inspection tools (commonly called “smart pigs”), a metering station which consists of above-ground meters, provers, and related equipment, a building containing equipment for sampling product in the pipeline, a sump tank, and three electric service buildings.
The station facility is part of Enbridge’s Line 79 pipeline project, approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission on May 12.
The project consists of about 64 miles of pipeline between Stockbridge Station and the new meter facility in VBT. The first 35 miles of the pipeline will be a new 20-inch diameter pipeline installed and owned by Enbridge, originating at Stockbridge and terminating at Freedom Township in Washtenaw County.
There it connects to an existing 16-inch diameter pipeline owned by Wolverine from Freedom Township through VBT to the Marathon refinery in Trenton.
From Freedom Township to VBT, Enbridge has leased about 29 miles of the Wolverine pipeline. At the VBT station, Enbridge will provide for the delivery of crude oil to Marathon Petroleum Corp., which will transport the crude oil to its refinery in the Detroit area via the portion of the Wolverine line running east from the VBT station, which is leased by Marathon.
In a legal opinion on the project, township attorney Patrick McCauley said the activities at the site “will be the measurement and sampling of crude oil volumes being delivered and the receiving and launching of internal inspection tools. There will be no refining of any crude oil at the site.”
There was some discussion by Enbridge representatives at the meeting concerning the December 2010 Enbridge spill of 800,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into the Kalamazoo River that is still being cleaned up 24 months later. They called the incident a very large problem created by human error in Marshall “by the experienced folks from Enbridge”.
On July 10, the day before the planning commission meeting, there was a National Transportation Safety Board report on Enbridge that representatives called “humbling” which noted the “poor response” to the spill that the NTSB chairman Debbie Hersman said couldn’t help but make you think about the Keystone Kops.
This report came a week after federal fines of $3.7 million were levied against Enbridge for what has been called one of the worst inland oil spills in history.
Enbridge representatives told the planning commission that the new VBT station will be enhancing the line maintenance and increasing safety.
The neighbors to the site said the pipes have been in the ground there since the early ‘30s at least and what Enbridge is building is a monitoring station.
“I feel more secure, not less secure,” she said of the planned construction. “It’s like having a baby in a bath and having one more adult watching.”
She said there currently are regular, low-flying airplanes monitoring the pipelines and if neighbors have a question, they call Wolverine and they get to talk to a person and get answers.
Terry Carroll, VBT Director of Planning and Economic Development, said the staff will sit down with Enbridge, the neighbors and the Metropark to work out details of screening, landscaping, and the preferred building façade. Then, Carroll will bring a report back to the planning commission.
In other business at the July 11 meeting the planning commission reviewed proposed amendments to the Wireless Communication zoning ordinance, most changes due to recent changes in state law.
A public hearing on the amendments will be set on the next available agenda, allowing for the necessary number of days required for a published announcement of the hearing.
In discussion at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Carl Johnson said there were 23 fireworks complaints on the police dispatch log starting July 1 and he thinks the commission should revisit the law on fireworks.
Carroll said there may be some push on the state level either to withdraw or change the new law. He said local ordinances can regulate the hours allowed for fireworks and how far from structures they can be set off. He suggested waiting until it can be determined what the state is going to do.