GRAND FORKS — With the announcement of the substantial completion of the Line 3 replacement project, pipeline safety is a concern for many in Minnesota. Enbridge, the company that owns Line 3, this week addressed the concerns in a virtual open house, discussing the project's transition from construction to operation.
The new pipeline is scheduled to begin service on Friday, Oct. 1.
The virtual open house on Wednesday, Sept. 29, was the latest of a monthly series giving updates and answering community questions about the project. It consisted of brief check-ins with various Enbridge employees, and updated viewers on safety precautions, environmental impact and economic benefits.
“We’ve grown up with the region,” said Trent Wetmore, Midwest region director of operations at Enbridge. In the open house, Wetmore explained that the completion of the Line 3 replacement project is the latest step in the company’s investment in Minnesota, and will make oil transportation safer and more efficient for the region because of updated technology and safety procedures.
The $2.9 billion Line 3 crosses through a sliver of North Dakota and through northern Minnesota on its way from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. Of its approximately 1,000 miles, 337 are in Minnesota. As the new Line 3 comes online, its older counterpart will be deactivated.
At the virtual open house, viewers were reassured that appropriate safety measures are in place for the pipeline to begin operating on Friday. Measures include 24/7 computerized system monitoring that can detect leaks when they happen, and pipeline markers with a phone number for reporting emergencies at road and water crossings.
Jennifer Anderson is a resident of Bagley, Minnesota, who has supported the project since the beginning. She attended community meetings held by Enbridge at the start of the project, and decided early on that replacing the current pipeline was the best course of action for the area. Her views on pipeline safety echoed the messages Enbridge communicated in its open house.
“You hardly know a pipeline is there once it’s buried and there are so many safety features monitoring that whole pipeline from the start to the finish. If there’s a leak they know it immediately. They are attentive to any type of leak,” said Anderson.
According to Anderson, a majority of people in the area have also been supportive of the project. She said Enbridge’s consistent community engagement is one of the reasons so many in the area support the project.
Opponents of the project, however, have been vocal and vow to continue. In a report earlier this week by Forum News Service, Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said "Line 3 is a crime against the environment and Indigenous rights, waters and lands, and it marks the end of the tar sands era — but not the end of the resistance to it."