Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Inspectors To Watch For Local Leaks In Pipeline
They rocketed last week in the wake of a Wisconsin 1,200 barrel leak in Enbridge Inc.'s 24-inch crude oil pipeline to Chicago refineries. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood demanded the company prove why it ought to keep operating the pipeline without a complete replacement or major overhaul. The answer was because the line supplies the oil for about 2/3 of Chicago area gasoline.
Enbridge had the rupture fixed Friday but the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said it wouldn't allow the line to start up again until the company submitted proof whatever caused the leak wouldn't happen again. Monday, however, the agency unexpectedly OK'ed an Enbridge plan to allow a restart as early as today.
Besides the helicopters and inspectors on the ground, too, the plan only allows Enbridge to operate the line at 80 percent pressure until further notice. Even so, it was enough that Chicago crude oil prices dropped more than 20 cents in Monday trading. At some McHenry County locations, gas pump prices had already fallen 10 cents a gallon by Monday afternoon.
How much more they'll fall is anyones guess. Last week's runup came from the Enbridge leak but prices since mid-July had already been trending higher as civil war in Syria heated up and Iran rattled its sabre toward the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile in the Chicago area, part of one refinery had gone offline for maintenance just before the Enbridge leak and part of another shut down after a fire.
Resumption of pipeline shipments still leaves area environmentalists uneasy, though. Mary McCann, head of the McHenry County Board's Natural and Environmental Committee said she'd be willing to keep paying 60 cents a gallon extra for gas if it would protect County water supplies. "I'm not sure how many people even know that line runs through McHenry County," she said.
In the pic: (above) Gasoline Prices began to subside Monday after an OK to restart Enbridge Inc.'s Line 14 oil pipline. (below) The line's route from Canada through McHenry County to Whiting, IN.