U.S. regulator blocks restart of Enbridge Line 14

Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:29pm EDT
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By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government blocked Enbridge Inc from restarting a key Midwestern 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 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."

Federal regulator Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a division of LaHood's department, delivered a corrective order to Enbridge on Tuesday, prohibiting it from restarting Line 14 until it can show regulators it has met safety standards.

In a statement, Enbridge said it plans to complete repairs to Line 14 by Wednesday, and will submit plans to PHMSA to restart the line. The company said corrective orders are commonly issued after pipeline incidents.

LaHood said there was no guarantee that permission would be granted to restart the line anytime soon.

Corrective orders can delay resumption of pipeline operations, sometimes for weeks or months. When an Enbridge pipeline spilled crude into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, the line was not approved for restart until six weeks later.   Continued...