Underground Pipeline Company Informs Township Officials Of Rules & Risks
With its 650 miles of active steel pipe running through Saugatuck Township - transporting refined products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, blend stocks and diluent - representatives from the Wolverine Pipe Line Company told township officials last week they wanted to reach out to them so they can be conscious of the pipeline’s presence and, at the same time, build community awareness.
“We don’t own any of the products we transport. We are basically a trucking company that is underground,” Wolverine Pipe Line Niles Area Supervisor Dean Skaggs told the township board.
“There is a lot of risk running a pipeline; we try to make sure it’s a well-managed risk,” said Skaggs.
Incorporated in 1952, the transportation service company connects Chicago refineries to Michigan and northwest Indiana terminals, transporting 300,000 barrels a day of refined products.
The pipeline runs north-south in the township, east of 62nd Street, along right-of-ways (up to 100-feet wide of surrounding areas where pipelines are buried) held in “perpetual right,” regardless of who owns the land or who builds near the easement.
“Part of the reason we do these presentations for local governments is to let them know we are here, and if they any questions or issues they have a face they can see and know who to contact,” said Skaggs.
“Safety is a major priority for us,” added Skaggs, noting his company has emergency preparedness and response plans in place. He said the operation is highly regulated, working with various state and federal agencies.
“We haven’t had a spill in this pipeline for a very long time,” said Skaggs.
Asked by one of the attending members of the public what limitations were imposed on property owners who host a pipe line easement, Wolverine ROW Agent Edwin Peters said, “The main one that affects property owners is, of course, that there can’t be any permanent structures and you can’t have trees higher than five feet.”
Peters continued, noting, “Any type of work you do (within the pipeline easement), we want to know about it.”
The Federal Communications Commission has designated 811 as the national (and Michigan) toll-free number to call to have underground utility lines marked.