Bloomington Mulls Pipeline Leak Detection Equipment

Apr 19, 2016

Pipeline Valve in McLean County
Credit Judith Valene / WGLT

There have been two oil pipeline leaks in the past month -- one in South Dakota and one in southern Illinois. But the city of Bloomington says it has not yet arranged for more extensive leak detection equipment to be placed along the Enbridge petroleum pipeline in McLean County. The pipeline crosses under three bodies of water that help supply Bloomington's drinking water.

Bloomington Water Department director Bob Yehl says Enbridge has offered the city a grant to pay for additional leak detection at Money Creek, a feeder stream to the city's main source of drinking water Lake Bloomington.

"The city of Bloomington is still working to submit a grant application for external leak detection to monitor one of our locations, and at this point we're working towards that," Yehl said.

Conservationists have called for more extensive leak detection equipment along the entire length of the pipeline in the county as well as training for local first responders to any potential accident.

The most recent spill involved a line owned by Marathon Oil in  Mount Carmel, Illinois that sent 48,300 gallons of oil into the the Wabash River.  That incident comes a week after  a leak in the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota spilled 17,000 gallons of heavy shale crude.

Yehl said the city is gathering data before applying for a grant to pay for the external l leak detection equipment.  He says the Canada-based company has assured city officials it is closely monitoring the line through remote internal leak detection technology.

   "Walking through their ability to detect both the amount of oil they're putting from one spot to the next, detecting different pressure scenarios. They also advised us they have people walking the length of the pipeline to help discover any leaks that might not be seen by their equipment." Yehl said.

Yehl added that there is no deadline to apply for the external detection equipment grant.

Enbridge was responsible for a 2010 spill -- one of the worst  in recent years --that began in Marshall, MI and eventually dumped a million gallons along the Kalamazoo River. The clean up cost the company about a billion dollars and took several years.