Lockport to lease land for oil pipeline project
By Frank Vaisvilas Correspondent October 2, 2013 10:06PM
Updated: November 4, 2013 12:26PM
The Lockport City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday night to lease city property to clear the way for a 100-foot pipeline bridge over the Illinois & Michigan Canal that would be operated by a Houston-based company, Cogent Energy Solutions.
The pipeline would deliver crude oil from storage tanks at the former Texaco refinery site to nearby barges on the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal. Cogent needs a lease with Lockport to use the city’s canal frontage for the project.
Aldermen Denise Marynowski and Kelly Turner voted against the project, citing concerns about a possible oil spill.
“The benefit doesn’t come anywhere near the danger this represents,” Marynowski said.
However, several audience members spoke in favor of the pipeline citing benefits to the economy.
“A job is a job,” Tim Gallagher, a member of a pipefitters union, said. “We survive on oil. We need it. ... It’s the lifeline of this area.”
Two representatives from other unions also spoke in support of the project, as did John Greuling, president of the Will County Center for Economic Development, and a representative from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
“We have identified energy production as a target industry for Will County,” Greuling told aldermen, adding that if the U.S. wants to be more energy independent, it will need to build the necessary infrastructure.
Turner argued that the pipeline would only create about seven jobs. He said it took a long time to clean up the former Texaco property.
Turner also was concerned on whether Lockport or Chevron, which owns the property, would be liable in the event of an oil spill in light of the city leasing its canal frontage to Cogent.
Several Lockport residents spoke against building the pipeline.
“I think something of this nature should be brought before a referendum,” Jim McGuffog told the council.
He said it took more than $100 million and 10 years to clean up the former Texaco site, and the pipeline project would bring the city “back to square one.”
“I don’t think it’s worth putting this town in jeopardy,” McGuffog said.
Also speaking in opposition was Carol Stark, director of an area environmental group, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, that has fought the project. She pointed to frequent oil leaks occurring around the country and locally and the consequential cleanups.
“Do we want to have a cleanup in a residential neighborhood?” Stark asked.