Line 3 is an Enbridge pipeline that ships crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. It spans northern Minnesota, crossing the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations and l855 and l842 treaty areas. It was built with defective steel in l96l, and has had numerous ruptures and continues to degrade. Instead of cleaning up this liability, Enbridge is proposing to leave it in the ground and build a $7.5 billion brand new corridor through our watershed and Ojibwe treaty territories, expanding Line 3 into the largest project in Enbridge’s history. This would become one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the continent, carrying up to 915,000 barrels per day. First Nations, tribes, and communities along this dangerous corridor having been fighting for years to stop Line 3 and protect our future generations.
Enbridge representative Laura Kennett has said,
"Line 3 has experienced an accelerated rate of deterioration associated with external corrosion, Stress Corrosion Cracking, and long-seam cracking due to the disbonded coating and fatigue growth of defects in the flash welded long seams. I consider Line 3 to be in the deterioration stage (Stage 3),as external corrosion growth is increasing in an exponential fashion. Therefore, Line 3 is on a path of ever increasing repairs to mitigate operating risk until it is replaced."
Line 3 is in a corridor called the Enbridge Mainline System, with 6 pipelines in total – Lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 67, and 13.
Many governmental reports and newspaper articles refer to Lines 3 and 4 as a single unit. Together they are responsible for a number of spills and catastrophes including the explosion in Clearbrook in 2007 that killed two workers.
Line 3 is also responsible for the largest inland oil spill in US history. Many people are familiar with the Kalamazoo River spill (1.1 million gallons), which the media continues to falsely reported as the largest, but Line 3's little known disaster spilled more than 1.7 million gallons of crude oil near Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 1991. Enbridge is now operating Line 3 at the absolute minimum pressure possible.
Long-seam cracking on Line 3 is attributable to defects from the original manufacturing method of the pipe and the impact of higher operating pressures and pressure cycles. Manufacturing and construction defects can be the initiation point of cracks, which can grow through repeated stress called “fatigue” in steel.
Some of the manufacturing defects on Line 3 are “hook cracks.” Hook cracks develop when impurities in the steel become trapped in the weld. The photo shows an example of hook cracks in a cross-section of a pipe weld. In this example, we can see one of the hook cracks has led to a crack that reached all the way through the entirety of the pipe wall.
The majority of this pipe was flash welded, a pipe manufacturing process that has an inherently higher susceptibility to the formation of defects along the long seam of the pipe. This combination of these defects and internal pipeline pressure developed into long-seam cracking are directly responsible for the historical ruptures of the Line 3 pipeline.
On Line 3 in Minnesota, 84 percent of the coating is Polyethylene (“PE”) tape, which has been found to "disbond" or peel from the pipe, leading to corrosion of the pipe walls. This PE tape was documented as a cause of the rupture that spilled near Hardisty, Alberta in 2001. It was also documented as a major cause of corrosion on Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, during their recent application to the TSB of Canada to reverse the direction of that line. The defective coating on Line 3 has caused:
Ten times as many corrosion anomalies per mile (with a depth of more than 20 percent of the pipe wall thickness) than any other Enbridge pipeline in the same corridor.
Along Line 3, soils have expanded and contracted from seasonal changes in temperature and moisture, and the friction between the pipe and soils with high clay content has stretched the tape coating and caused it to wrinkle. Pipelines in soils with more clay, such as parts of western Minnesota, exhibit more stretching of the tape coating because those soils are more prone to movement from settling and wetting. The photo below shows an example of the effect of soil stress on Line 3’s tape coating
External corrosion is the oxidation of the steel and loss of metal on the exterior of the pipeline. External corrosion on Line 3 is primarily attributed to the coating disbonding from the external surface of the pipe. Disbonded coating creates entry points for water, oxygen, bacteria and acidic compounds in soil to access the surface of the steel and initiate corrosion.
Fond du Lac Band members and employees have also raised concerns about these exposed pipes in MN Public Utilities Commission proceedings regarding Enbridge’s pipeline route restoration practices in 2008.
Enbridge calls the Line 3 project a “replacement” because they already have a Line 3 pipeline in their mainline corridor, which transects Northern Minnesota with 6 pipelines in it. But don’t be fooled – this is a new pipeline.
Thanks to our relatives in Standing Rock, the world is beginning to understand that water is life.
A new pipeline corridor crossing Minnesota's lake country would threaten pristine aquatic ecosystems, the largest wild rice bed in the world, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and and the Great Lake Superior. One-fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply lies here, and it is worth protecting.
The new Line 3 would also pierce the heart of Ojibwe treaty lands, where members of signatory bands retain the rights to hunt, fish, gather, hold ceremony, and travel. It is our responsibility as water protectors to prevent this. We will not allow Line 3 to desecrate our lands, violate our treaty rights, or poison our water. Our wild rice beds, lakes, and rivers are precious – and our regional fisheries generate $7.2 billion annually, and support 49,000 jobs. The tourism economy of northern Minnesota represents $ll.9 billion in gross sales (or 240,000 jobs).
The bottom line is that for a given pipeline in any 10-year period, there is a 57% chance of a major spill. So it’s not a question of if these pipelines will poison our sacred waters and destroy our way of life, but when. That is unacceptable. The real opportunity to create jobs lies in maintaining, cleaning up, and dismantling these old lines.
The US government has a responsibility under federal law to honor the rights guaranteed to tribal members in their treaties. The proposed Line 3 corridor would violate the treaty rights of the Anishinaabeg by endangering primary areas of hunting, fishing, wild rice, and cultural resources in the 1855, 1854, and 1842 treaty territories. The US Supreme Court has upheld the rights of native people to hunt, fish, and subsist off the land. Line 3 threatens the culture, way of life, and physical survival of the Ojibwe people.
If Minnesota approves Line 3, Enbridge will receive powers of eminent domain, on grounds that it is a public utility providing a public benefit. This would allow them to take property without landowner consent, just as governments do to build roads and other public infrastructure. This is a problem: Enbridge is a private Canadian corporation that will earn billions in profit by shipping privately owned oil for privately owned oil companies.
Enbridge wants simply to walk away from the old, crumbling Line 3 pipeline and abandon it in the ground. Unfortunately, there is no federal or state regulation to speak of that would prevent tribes and landowners from the extreme financial and ecological liability this poses.
We want Enbridge to take responsibility and clean up not only Line 3, but all of their aging lines which are endangering families across the Great Lakes region.
We want Minnesota to legislators to deny the recently introduced House Bills 78, 1036, and 1151 which aim to remove the environmental regulation for pipelines by removing the "Certificate of Need" process. We need Governor Dayton to veto this bill if it progresses.
We need Minnesota landowners to work together and stand up for our land and our rights. Visit Minnesotans for Pipeline Cleanup to learn how you can get involved.