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No Major Impacts on Lake Superior Found from Line 3 Pipeline

The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project in the Superior area is seen in this file photo supplied by the company. The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project in the Superior area is seen in this file photo supplied by the company. |  Photo: Enbridge

The Associated Press and WDIO-TV
Updated: December 09, 2019 05:26 PM

An updated environmental review for Enbridge Energy's proposal to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota has found no serious impacts on Lake Superior from hypothetical spills.

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Regulators ordered the update after a Minnesota court declared an earlier review inadequate because it failed to specifically address the potential impacts of a spill into the Lake Superior watershed.

"The sinuous configuration of the St. Louis River would make it unlikely that the oil would be blown downstream to any great extent. Instead, the oil remaining on the surface after 24-hours would likely continue to strand on shorelines without reaching the entrance to Lake Superior," the Department of Commerce's Louise Miltich wrote in a letter accompanying the revised report.

"The DOC's spill modeling confirms that in the unlikely case of a spill the Line 3 replacement segment does not introduce risk to Lake Superior," Enbridge said in a news release.

"By design the model did not take into account any response, mitigation or cleanup efforts for 24 hours and even then, none of the simulations resulted in oil reaching Spirit Lake or entering Lake Superior even in high flow conditions.  In real life, Enbridge crews would respond immediately and aggressively to actively address the spill and begin cleanup," the company's statement said.

A public comment period runs through Jan. 16. If the Public Utilities Commission deems the update adequate, Enbridge hopes to start construction of the Minnesota and North Dakota segments of the replacement pipeline in mid-2020.

The PUC said written comments cab be submitted online by visiting mn.gov/puc and then selecting the link "Comment" on the main menu to connect to the public comment page.

An administrative law judge will also receive comments in person at two hearings in Duluth on Thursday, Dec. 19.  The hearings will be held at the Radisson Hotel, 505 West Superior Street, from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m.

The EIS can be read at https://mn.gov/eera/web/file-list/13765/.

Credits

The Associated Press and WDIO-TV

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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