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New Oil Pipeline to Cross Missouri

Pipeyard set up by Enbridge near Amsterdam, MO      Photo Courtesy of Danny Ferguson
Pipeyard set up by Enbridge near Amsterdam, MO Photo Courtesy of Danny Ferguson
July 15, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Canadian oil company that made headlines in 2010 for spilling 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil into a Michigan river now is looking to run a line across Missouri.

Enbridge Energy's Flanagan South project would expand an oil pipeline 600 miles southwest from Pontiac, Ill., to Oklahoma.

The company will hold open houses this week in Archie and Marshall to discuss the project.

Danny Ferguson, who serves on the city council in nearby Adrian, said he is concerned because the project expands some very old pipeline that crosses a river upstream from his city's drinking water.

"It's really our only source of water," Ferguson said. "We just spent several million dollars upgrading our water plant and water lines, and so we take it pretty seriously that it's putting our water at risk."

Ferguson said Enbridge already has moved acres of pipe into the area and set up offices in Archie. He has contacted the company to find out how it plans to protect the area drinking water, but says he's been having trouble getting straight answers. According to Enbridge, the project will bring jobs to the area - but Ferguson said he's not convinced that it's worth the risk.

Ferguson said Enbridge officials started out answering his questions, but when the questions got harder the answers stopped coming - so he contacted federal regulators.

"The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration said, 'Oh, I'll have them contact you. You don't need to deal with the PR people. Let me just put the company in touch with you,' " Ferguson said. "He wrote me back the other day and said, 'I hope they've been talking to you.' And I said, 'No, they have not contacted me at all.' "

Ferguson plans to continue the hard questions at the open house and urges area residents to do the same thing. Open houses will be held tonight in Rushville, Ill., Tuesday in Marshall, Wednesday in Archie and Thursday in Iola, Kan.

Harry Alper, organizer for the Missouri Sierra Club, said he is looking for answers to such questions as: "Does the company have a spill response plan on file locally?" and "What is in the oil that will be traveling through the pipeline?"

"This is diluted bitumen, tar sands oil, which is a very heavy oil that thins out with compounds like hexane and benzene," Alper said. "It's important that firefighters - emergency responders - know what's in this when it does leak."

When Enbridge tar sands oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, Alper said, the oil sank to the bottom and the EPA still is trying to clean it up.

According to the company handout, Enbridge is committed to safe and reliable pipeline operation. It initially plans to pump 600,000 barrels a day and eventually expand to 775,000 barrels through 11 counties in Missouri.

More information is online at

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO