Originally published on the Dryden Wire, with additional reporting from St. Croix 360:
Vandalism recently occurred at the work site of Enbridge oil pipeline, Line 61, in the township of Bass Lake off of Cty. Hwy. E in Washburn County.
The worksite Foreman Matt Bergman said on November 9 that the incident occurred the night of October 31, possibly into the morning hours of November 1, when a large excavating/digging machine was used to dig several shallow holes around the site.
Bergman said the holes that were dug were “real shallow” and did not cause any damage to any portion of the pipeline.
“[The holes] didn’t get into any lines,” he said. “Luckily for them [the vandals], and for everyone around here.”
A $40,000 generator used to power work lights for night working and to power water pumps was also “smashed up,” Bergman said. He didn’t think the unit would be salvageable due to the damage.
Bergman said the crew’s job is to perform pipeline maintenance for Enbridge, known as an integrity dig. “They send us out to areas where they know there’s issue with the pipe, so we dig it up and look at the issue.” Bergman said there has been no oil release or leak from the pipeline prior to or after the vandalism. Bergman also said his crew is just about done, and no damage or concerning issues were found with the existing pipeline called, Line 61, which carries tar sand oil through from Canada, through Wisconsin, and on to Illinois.
Washburn County Sheriff Terry Dryden also confirmed the information and issued a warning in a statement via social media:
“I am sending this post out to dispel two rumors floating around about the Enbridge Pipeline and to inform you of a road closure. Also, a warning about interfering with and damaging equipment during their preventive maintenance… [On] November 2nd, we were called to their work site. Person/s unknown moved their heavy equipment and dug numerous holes and placed their generator in one of the holes. Whether you agree with pipelines, etc., there is no need to cause damage to private contractors equipment or interfere with their work. The on-site workers are just that, they are not a part of Enbridge other than they are getting paid to do a job. Criminal conduct to include interfering with the process onsite will do nothing more than get you in trouble.
“There is not a leak in the Enbridge Pipeline. They are doing preventive maintenance work on the existing line/s.
“They are not putting in any new pipelines. That process and work is a long way out, as I understand the process,” Dryden said.
Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said the crew was excavating the site as part of an “integrity dig” to inspect and repair the pipe. Such projects are part of routine maintenance.
“Enbridge’s regular monitoring and inspection program alerts us to pipeline features that may require a visual inspection to determine if a repair or other action is required,” Smith said. “There are a number of different anomalies that can be identified during our pipeline monitoring and inspections. This could include third-party excavation damage, corrosion, cracking or denting.”
More information about integrity digs is available on Enbridge’s website.
Anyone with information regarding the vandalism is asked to contact the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office, 715-468-4700.