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Fire, Spill Shuts Down Enbridge Oil Pipeline in Illinois

Common Dreams staff

Enbridge, whose pipeline networks carry the majority of Canadian oil exports to US Midwestern states, shut down a pipeline on Saturday after an automobile accident caused a fire and a spill at a pumping station.  The Chicago Sun-Times reported two men were killed, including a firefighter, and three critically injured in the accident. Enbridge would not release the amount of crude oil that had possibly been spilled.

Reuters reports:

The Canadian company said it was forced to shut down the 318,000 barrel-a-day "14/64" line between Superior, Wisconsin, and Griffith, Indiana, after the early-morning collision, which caused a blaze and a spill of crude near New Lenox, Illinois. That's equivalent to about 3 percent of total U.S. imports.

Enbridge [...] said it did not know when the pipeline could resume flowing. It has slowed the flow of oil in two pipelines in Canada, Lines 2B and 3, which feed a total of 800,000 bpd supply into the system at Superior, Enbridge said.

"An estimated startup time is not known at this time," Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little said in an email. "An update will be provided when local emergency crews and Enbridge are able to assess the extent of the damage."

Typically, minor damage to above-ground pipelines can be repaired within a week or two, barring serious environmental issues, although major damage or an extended investigation into the accident could prolong the closure.

Enbridge said it had also shut another major line between Superior and Griffith, called 6 A, as a precaution early on Saturday, but restarted it several hours later. The company's total system carries some 2 million bpd of crude.


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