Regulator blocks restart of Enbridge Line 14

Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:08pm EDT
 
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By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government blocked Enbridge Inc from restarting a key oil pipeline on Tuesday, saying last week's spill on the line was "absolutely unacceptable."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blasted Enbridge over the leak of more than a 1,000 barrels of crude oil in a field in Wisconsin, which shut its 318,000 barrel per day pipeline on Friday.

"I will soon meet with Enbridge's leadership team, and they will need to demonstrate why they should be allowed to continue to operate this Wisconsin pipeline without either a significant overhaul or a complete replacement," LaHood said in a statement.

"Accidents like the one in Wisconsin are absolutely unacceptable."

The department ratcheted up its oversight of pipeline safety last year after a series of high profile spills gained national attention, including a 2010 spill on another Enbridge line that fouled part of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

The Wisconsin spill is another blow to Enbridge's reputation, after the department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a $3.7 million fine for the 2010 spill earlier this month and a National Transportation Safety Board report accused Enbridge employees of acting like "Keystone Kops" during that accident.

MORE TESTING REQUIRED

Enbridge will now need to submit a restart plan for the entire 467-mile (752-km) pipeline to the Transportation Department's pipeline safety agency for approval before resuming operations.   Continued...