Enbridge offers grant opportunities

 

 

CASSOPOLIS — To prove it’s a good neighbor, Enbridge Energy Co.’s 285-mile pipe replacement project includes two types of grant opportunities available to this area.

 

One, Safe Communities, is an “evergreen” offered nationwide.

 

The other is specific to this project crossing Cass County as it stretches from Griffith, Ind., to Marysville, Mich., near Port Huron, then across the St. Clair River into Ontario, Canada.

 

Annual Safe Communities grants to first responders furnish up to $1,500.

 

A fire department might use such an amount to replace nozzles on hoses.

 

Marshall Police Department purchased laptops.

 

Specific to this project is an environmental stewardship grant opportunity.

 

This program’s shelf life to apply lasts until Dec. 31. Funds must be spent by Sept. 30, 2014, on, say, a tree-planting program or watershed cleanup.

 

If a township or municipality contains 6,000 people or less, it’s eligible for up to $15,000. Larger units crossed by the pipeline can qualify for up to $25,000.

 

Purpose of the company’s pipe replacement project is two-fold, the Cass County Board of Commissioners heard Thursday night from Jason Manshum, Marshall-based community relations senior adviser for Enbridge.

 

One, to reduce future maintenance.

 

Two, to meet increased demand.

 

 “Once Enbridge has replaced Line 6B, a crude oil pipeline which originates in Chicagoland,” Manshum said, “it will have thicker steel and state-of-the art technology. Once we’re done, folks can look forward to not seeing us very often. We should drastically reduce or eliminate the need to knock on doors and say we need access to property to make repairs. It takes a lot of patience. It’s noisy, six days a week. To get to project completion and we’re no longer in your backyard, we set up grant opportunities to work with every individual, organization and township we affect.”

 

Line 6B has been in service since 1969. It ruptured into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010.

 

Last year, Enbridge replaced 75 miles of segments.

 

The balance — 210 miles —  will be replaced between June and the end of 2013.

 

“By the time we flip the calendar into 2014, the entire 285-mile stretch will be replaced,” Manshum said. “We are using more and more petroleum. Refineries in Detroit and other parts of the Midwest upgraded capacity. They’re our customers and they need us to deliver more product. It’s not our oil, we don’t buy it, sell it or mine it underground. We transport it.”

 

As the father of a first-grader teaching Junior Achievement, Manshum likens Enbridge to a “school bus. I take you to school and back home — transport from one location to another. The only way we can meet the demand for more product is with the replacement line’s added capacity.”

 

New pipeline features include thicker steel walls — from one-third of an inch thick to two-thirds — and buried deeper.

 

“Right now, on average,” he said, “the top of the pipe is about three feet from the surface of the ground,” compared to four to five feet soon. “If you followed the Kalamazoo River news, the National Transportation Safety Board said after completing a two-year investigation that the cause of the spill, the cause of the rupture, was in the external coating. In the ’60s, you wrapped tape around it in the field and dropped it into the trench. Moisture could leak in between the steel and that tape coating, over time compromising the integrity of that pipeline. The very small, microscopic series of spider web cracks couldn’t be seen with the naked eye, nor could our inspection tools pick them up.”

 

Today’s technology standard is an epoxy fusion-bonded coating applied at the steel mill in Canada.

 

“You’re less likely to have errors not trying to apply it out in Mother Nature,” Manshum said.

 

Manshum said if townships cannot come up with projects by the year-end deadline, “We could grant that money to similar organizations for projects like parks, 4-H, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.”

 

 

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