Aquifer, Breach, Clean Water Act, criminal, DNR, Enbridge, Groundwater, Healing Minnesota Stories, Line 3, MPCA, Pipeline, Tar Sands
Enbridge has two major Line 5 pipeline project proposals in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Minnesota’s experience with Enbridge’s Line 3 project is a story that tells them BOTH to say… “No!”
You can learn more about these post-construction damages at a November 16th webinar that Sierra Club North Star Chapter is hosting as a partner with Waadookawaad Amikwag. Here is the Facebook event and the website RSVP pages for the noontime presentation and the evening discussion!
Read below for more details on Minnesota’s horrific aftermath with Enbridge pipeline construction.
It never was the leaking pipeline that was gonna get us… it was the damages their construction brings to the water.
Lies during Permitting
For the full story, we’d have to do far too much weedy Application and Environmental Impact Statement review:
- We might review the data gathered and presented by Enbridge ahead of construction, apparently NOT thorough enough to understand the unstable and water-filled geological landscape where they proposed their pipeline construction. The more we investigate here, the more clearly it shows how little the state agencies investigated as they evaluated permit applications? As we citizens review topo maps now, we see even more clearly what walking the land told us from the beginning: THIS IS A HORRIBLE place this for a tar sands pipeline.
- We might re-read the testimony of experts, like Paul Stolen, testifying for Friends of the Headwaters, who advised AGAINST permitting a tar sands pipeline through this inconsistent glacial till, advising frac-outs could be frequent regardless of Enbridge’s promises about their “safer” Horizontal Directional Drilling process.
- We might also consider Paul’s further testimony about LaSalle Valley, seeking a re-route around this sensitive area:
Not enough evidence for those in DNR and PCA reviewing and deciding upon the permits it seems… or perhaps they missed Paul’s prescient comments? We watched as the PUC seemingly ignored 68K comments in opposition of this project while only a few thousand (mostly via signed pre-printed postcards from Enbridge) voiced support.
Unfortunately, testimony from experts like Paul Stolen
and similar citizen comments were ignored as
Minnesota’s regulatory bodies permitted the project anyway.
Then Enbridge ran rampant over the land, RUSHING through their construction, which may well be the source for these MANY long-term water impacts and ongoing environmental remediation sites – STILL INCOMPLETE – a year after Enbridge began flowing tar sands through their pipeline.
Enbridge acted criminally, ignoring their construction permits and not reporting the damages from this willful violation.
A hard lesson learned by Minnesotans in Enbridge’s company town of Clearbrook.
Lies During Construction
The First Discovered Breach: COVERED UP BY ENBRIDGE FOR MONTHS!
Discovered is the proper word to use here as Enbridge knew of the unrelenting groundwater surging from the earth when they were working to install their new tar sands pipeline – Line 3, now 93 – at their terminal in Clearbrook.
On or about January 21st, they discovered that their steel pilings [at a depth of 28′, on a low-risk construction permit allowing only 8-10 feet of trenching] had ruptured an artesian aquifer. Enbridge, while reporting water flow in their weekly reports to DNR, made no attempt to be clear about the situation, which was only discovered inadvertently during a mid-June lunchtime conversation between DNR and an Independent Environmental Monitor, which was explained during a DNR Office Hours session last year.
Note: This was mere days after the DNR issued a 10-fold increase in Enbridge’s Water Appropriation Permit – to Five Billion Gallons …which seems to have gotten NO REVIEW after discovery of this water surging from the land at Enbridge’s construction site? And when you know the inside baseball of communications between the state and tribal officials, you see the truly egregious nature of the timing of this approval. Perhaps a chat for another day as it’s not my story to tell.
I continue to wonder how on earth the DNR could not see this OBVIOUS FAILURE by the Applicant to assess needs for construction. This request clearly deserved closer evaluation, especially for such a significant increase, DURING A DROUGHT YEAR, no less! How could Enbridge – pipeline construction experts one would assume – have such a POOR UNDERSTANDING of their needs for Water Appropriation? And, yes, Tribal consultation should have been a part of assessing this permitting change.
One might note that these “independent” monitors appear a perfunctory indicator of Enbridge’s adherence to unbiased practices – yet were they merely more window dressing to the Canadian corporation’s piss-poor plan for caring for our land? Almost half of these monitors were shown to be previous Enbridge contract employees!! [Thanks, Healing Minnesota Stories!]
That’s what Enbridge and the State call Independent?
So first we learned during permitting that Enbridge would not come clean on the real dangers their construction entails, and then we found Enbridge wouldn’t ADHERE to their permits ANYWAY! One might question, in fact, why there are no details provided on how Enbridge violated their Low Risk Construction permit at Clearbrook in the settlement documentation. Hmmm?
What do Permits MEAN if they can simply be ignored by an Applicant… without penalty?
Many Minnesotans continue to be baffled as state agencies and regulators keep listening to Enbridge, even as we continue to discover more and more about their deception.
It’s clear to us that Enbridge cannot be trusted.
It seems more evident than ever that they are likely ill-equipped to actually remediate the damages they’ve caused.
The “FIXED” Breaches: Enbridge says, “OOPS! Not Quite Fixed After All!”
Back in August, Waadookawaad Amikwag – Those Who Help Beaver – visited LaSalle Valley where a SECOND Enbridge breach had been reported almost a year earlier. It was reported “fixed” in late 2021.
[I say “late 2021” because the date has been reported by Enbridge as November by Jennifer Bjorhus back in August: “Pipeline operator Enbridge Energy said on its website that the LaSalle breach was grouted and fixed last November.“, while the recent settlement with the State, reported (Item 24 under LaSalle Creek Site): “On December 20, 2021, Enbridge reported that implementation of the 2021 LaSalle Corrective Action Plan had stopped groundwater discharge at the site.“
Who knows when Enbridge is constantly changing the story to fit their needed narrative?]
Far from being fixed, the team discovered many ongoing upwellings. Enbridge calls them seeps, yet this is the equipment they are using to measure just ONE of these “seeps”. This site was initially reported as leaking just under 10M gallons. Yet with one seep location showing almost a million gallons each month, based on our observations of their Weir box in the field, that is surely adding up!! Is anyone actually counting all the gallons lost due to Enbridge’s negligence?
Note that Enbridge also reported their Clearbrook breach remedied just days before it’s one-year anniversary… yet in the recent settlement, that claim was also proven to be premature: “On September 1, 2022, Enbridge informed DNR that a small groundwater seep had emerged near the Clearbrook Site repair at an estimated rate of ½ gallons per minute.”
Sooo…. Not Fixed. While initial reports spoke of 50M gallons, that later nearly doubled, and, if flow continues… who knows?
Enbridge isn’t counting the gallons at this site it seems.
The settlement notes of the third reported Enbridge breach, this one at MP1102.5, just 400′ outside Fond du Lac Reservation, that it TOO is “fixed”!
For now maybe?
Waadookawaad Amikwag continues to ground-truth these Enbridge claims. 219 millions gallons of water were reported lost.
Continued Coverup by Enbridge… and the State
Waadookawaad Amikwag has document dozens of upwelling water sites along Enbridge’s corridor. We have tried talking with Minnesota Agency contacts to no avail. [Most won’t even respond to my emails anymore.] We offered to share data, if they were interested but they never asked (as was reported by Bjorhus above). Seems they are only interested in the Enbridge narrative.
The State STILL HAVEN’T ASKED for any of our data.
In fact, we’re still awaiting a response on a draft Memorandum of Agreement for this data use… sent over a month ago.
Meanwhile, we see continued infiltration of Enbridge in our bogs and wetlands.
The settlement Enbridge has negotiated with state regulators is far too premature based on grounded evidence along the Line 3/93 corridor. There are dozens of sites of concern that need review. We’ve documented plainly and clearly, with water testing, photographs, thermal imaging and drone footage, at least two sites of breached groundwater upwelling that remain UNREPORTED to the public by State Agencies.
I’ve blogged repeatedly and posted videos on Walker Brook, which the state has acknowledged to some is under investigation. Yet Minnesota environmental regulators refuse to make public any details of the problems at Line 3’s Walker Brook South’s crossing.
In response to Healing Minnesota Stories’ questions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said: “While the investigation is ongoing, we cannot provide details about the situation.”
The DNR continued: “However, we want to correct your suggestion that there is an aquifer breach at this site. Based on our work thus far, the Minnesota DNR has found no evidence of an aquifer breach. Instead, the Walker Brook location appears to have an upwelling of shallow groundwater resources that has complicated site restoration.”
The MPCA continued: “The MPCA is in regular communication with on-site independent environmental monitors to ensure the company adheres to permits that remain in place while the company works to restore the site.”
Just because the matter is under investigation shouldn’t preclude agencies from releasing basic information.”Healing Minnesota Stories Blog: Volunteers spotlight more groundwater problems apparently created during Line 3 pipeline construction
Is MN DNR using Enbridge tactics to downplay the situation…
“No evidence of an Aquifer breach!!”
Does that mean they think this situation is not a problem?
Does this photo of the Valley at Walker Brook look like a problem to You?
We might also consider, as part of our review of this project and its outcomes, re-listening to the voices of our children, who protested… asking us adults for NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE development, asking us to recognize how much we have already polluted their world and to heed their call to awaken to the increasingly scary dangers of climate change…
Their everyday nightmare.