* Some 1,200 barrels spill from pipeline in Wisconsin
* Spill is two years after another major Enbridge spill
* Canadian company already battling safety concerns on its
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, July 28 The U.S. pipeline safety
agency launched an investigation on Saturday into an oil spill
in Wisconsin on Enbridge Inc's network that forced the
partial shutdown of a main artery carrying light sweet Canadian
crude to Chicago-area refineries.
Enbridge's 318,000 barrel per day Line 14 pipeline, part of
the Lakehead system, was shut after an estimated 1,200 barrels
of oil were leaked. This happened almost two years to the day
after another major spill in a different section of the line, in
Enbridge Energy Partners said on Friday there was
not yet a time frame for when flows would resume, and the cause
of the spill had not yet been determined.
"(The U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) is investigating the
cause of the Enbridge crude oil pipeline failure in Wisconsin,"
spokesman Damon Hill said in an email on Saturday, adding that
an inspector had been sent to the location of the pipeline
Line 14 is one of four lines that ship mainly Canadian crude
via Lakehead, a 2.5 million bpd network that is the principal
route for Canadian exports.
The news will not help Enbridge build public trust in its
network, which has come under scrutiny following several
high-profile incidents, including a spill in Alberta last month
and the massive leak in Michigan two years ago.
Just weeks ago, the U.S. National Transportation Safety
Board delivered a scathing report of Enbridge's handling of the
July 2010 rupture of its Line 6B near Marshall, Michigan, which
led to more than 20,000 barrels of crude leaking into the
The NTSB said it found a complete breakdown of company safety
measures, and that Enbridge employees performed like "Keystone
Kops" trying to contain it. The rupture went undetected for 17
U.S. pipeline regulators fined it $3.7 million for the spill,
their largest ever penalty.
The incidents have caused furor just as the company seeks
approval for its C$6 billion Northern Gateway pipeline to
Canada's West Coast from Alberta amid staunch opposition from
environmental groups and native communities that warn against
oil spills on land and in coastal waters.
Enbridge said Line 14 was a 24-inch diameter pipe that was
installed in 1998, making it a relatively new line.
In most cases, smaller pipeline leaks can be repaired
quickly allowing operations to resume pumping, although
regulators may require significant work if they find any cause
for alarm. Following the leak two years ago, the line was shut
for over two months.
No injury was reported on Friday at the line, which is near
Grand Marsh, Wisconsin, Enbridge said.