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Landowners seek answers on oil pipeline

GRAPHIC: Pipeline Plan
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Updated: February 24, 2014 1:23PM



A steady stream of landowners attended a two-hour open house Wednesday evening in Crete, eager to learn more about a proposed oil pipeline, including its exact route and how safe it would be.

Enbridge Energy Co., based in Calgary, Alberta, hosted the public session at the Village Woods Retirement Community with lots of maps and brochures on its plan to install a 79-mile pipeline that will carry crude oil from downstate Pontiac to Griffith, Ind. A computerized map showed exactly which properties would be impacted.

When Mark Hansen arrived, he discovered that the 36-inch pipeline would dissect his farm in Crete, and he feared losing part or all of his growing season in 2015, when construction is tentatively set to begin.

“I hope they will give me access to my land. They sound like they will accommodate us,” he said, adding that he now has an Enbridge pipeline under his farm and “never had a problem with it.”

“You can’t stop progress, just as long as they do a good job of putting everything back the way it was,” Hansen said.

Many on Wednesday seemed resigned to their fate and believed that Enbridge employees answered most of their questions.

The pipeline will run mostly parallel to Enbridge’s existing one, but the route has been shifted north of the proposed South Suburban Airport site at the request of the Illinois Department of Transportation. It will turn north at Burrville Road and follow along a ComEd easement just west of Illinois 394 into Sauk Village and then head east along the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks to Dyer, Ind., and then north to Griffith.

Enbridge plans to begin clearing the land this fall, begin pipeline construction in spring 2015 and have the new line in service in fall 2015.

“I feel I have no choice,” Crete farm owner Beverly Wassmann said. “It’s all in your attitude. Life goes on. This is something that is going to happen, and we will be compensated for it.”

The pipeline would go through a ComEd easement that’s on her property, but she is concerned about her farmer’s ability to get his crops out.

“They are trying to take that into consideration. If not, they said they would pay you for your loss of crops,” Wassmann said.

Enbridge needs to acquire easements from 273 landowners, 100 of whom are in Will County, said Jennifer Smith, Enbridge’s public affairs adviser. The proposed pipeline route could change, she said, noting that “it’s not final until they hit the ground.”

More than 100 property owners were invited to the session, and most had questions and concerns about safety, construction and land restoration, Smith said.

By granting Enbridge an easement, property owners cannot put permanent structures or trees on that land, but they may farm or garden on it, Smith said. She said the pipeline will be buried 5 feet underground and the land restored.

Gary and Kim Ruthenbeck will have the pipeline just 20 feet from their property line. They said they will have the aggravation without the compensation and may lose several trees during construction.

“These (pipelines) tend to crack. I was in Houston when one exploded and melted a mobile home park,” Gary Ruthenbeck said.

“I’m not against it,” his wife said. “I just want to make sure they have a sound process and will stand behind what they are saying.”



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