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Clinton River on Fire

March 18, 2015

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Back in 1988 – Workers for Enbridge’s Lakehead Pipe Line  used propane torches to burn crude oil off the banks of the Clinton River in Bruce Township.

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BY MARK LOWERY
Free Press Staff Writer
– A Wisconsin company began a controlled burn along the banks of the Clilnton River in Bruce Township on Thursday to clean up residue from a 320,000-gallon crude oil leak in June.  The Lakehead Pipe Line Co. of Superior, Wis., started burning the crude oil along a two-mile stretch of river between Brown Road and Thirty-four Mile Road.  The operation is expected to last two days. Lakehead representatives and officials from the state Department of Natural Resources say the controlled burn is the best way to clean up the remaining oil without causing additional environmental damage.  “At this point, what damage that was going to occur, did occur,” said James Goodheart, a wildlife biologist with the DNR. Goodheart said the spill and a resulting fire disrupted wildlife in and around the river and nearby wetlands.  On June 16, oil leaked from an underground Lakehead pipe that carries crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Buffalo. Workers attempting to repair the broken pipeline struck a pipe with a backhoe, sparking a fire. The fire swept several acres of nearby farmland. The leak was caused by corrosion, and Lakehead’s clean up costs may reach $1 million, company officials said. Flames from the controlled burn are not expected to be taller than 18 inches, and straw bales will be put in the river to prevent ashes from falling in, company officials said.

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