Oil Pipeline OK’d in MI

Friday, January 22, 2016 @ 02:01 PM gHale

A plan for a pipeline that will carry up to 90,000 barrels of refined petroleum through southeast Michigan daily gained approval.

The Wolverine Pipe Line Company asked the Michigan Public Services commission in early 2015 to approve the 35-mile Detroit Metro Access Pipeline that will stretch from Freedom Township to storage facilities in Romulus.

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The pipeline will be the final link between southeast Michigan and Chicago-area refineries, and will go up next to another Wolverine line already in service.

Wolverine spokesperson Tom Shields said construction should begin this summer and the pipeline will be operational in late 2016.

“There is a demand for additional gasoline and diesel fuel in the Detroit metropolitan area. This new pipeline will be able to bring gasoline products into southeast Michigan from refineries in the Chicago market,” Shields said.

Pittsfield Township voiced strong opposition to the project. While the pipeline will run through agricultural land in much of Washtenaw County, including Lodi, Freedom and Ypsilanti townships, it begins to travel under or near residential areas in Pittsfield.

The pipes end up built underground, but they will need 25-foot easements on either side to allow truck access and for safety reasons. Trees must end up cleared because the company uses planes to fly over its lines to monitor for leaks or other issues.

Part of residents’ concern is the expanded right of way Wolverine requested. The right of way around the current pipe is 50 feet. That will expand to 75 feet once the second line is in place. The township asked Wolverine to work within the current 50-foot right-of-way if the second line ends up built, and Supervisor Mandy Grewal said Wolverine will do so in Pittsfield Township only.

But on Thursday afternoon a Wolverine spokesman said that wasn’t true, and the company will try to work with individual property owners. He added 75 feet often ends up needed to safely build and operate the pipelines.

Shields said the line is going in because of increased supply through measures such as fracking and to meet increased demand in the Detroit area. By comparison, transporting the same volume by truck would require 425 round trips per day, Shields said.

Wolverine is a Portage-based pipeline transportation service company. Its 67 employees help operate more than 630 miles of active pipelines connecting refineries in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The company has had one spill, which happened around 1999 at its Jackson station. Shields previously said they cleaned the spill without injury or permanent damage to the environment.