Fresh anger in U.S. as Enbridge races to clean up Wisconsin oil spill – by Brendan O’Brien (Reuters/Globe and Mail – July 29, 2012)

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GRAND MARSH, Wis. — Reuters – Canada’s Enbridge Inc on Sunday worked to repair a major pipeline that spilled more than 1,000 barrels of oil in a Wisconsin field, provoking fresh ire from Washington over the latest in a series of leaks.

The spill on Friday — almost two years to the day after a ruptured Enbridge line fouled part of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan — has forced the closure of a major conduit for Canadian light crude shipments to U.S. refiners and threatens to further damage the reputation of a company that launched a more than $3 billion expansion program just two months ago.

On Sunday, an Enbridge spokesman said the company was working diligently to carry out inspections to Line 14 and repairs to ensure a safe restart. The company did not say what had caused the incident and provided no estimate on when the 318,000 barrels-per-day Line 14 would resume service.

An official with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said two inspectors were at the site on Sunday, and that all of the pooled oil had been cleaned up.

“The line has been uncovered to begin removing the failed section and send it to a metallurgical lab for examination,” PHMSA spokesman Damon Hill said.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are also on site, Enbridge said in a statement.

An image of the area posted on Enbridge’s website showed a patch of damp, blackened earth near a stand of trees about one-third the size of a football field. It found some oil on two small farm ponds, but said they did not connect to moving waterways and that drinking wells did not seem to be affected.

Although the spill appeared to be relatively small and quickly contained, it comes at a delicate time for Enbridge, which suffered another leak in Alberta, Canada, a month ago and endured a scathing report from U.S. safety regulators over its handling of the Michigan incident in 2010, with employees likened to the “Keystone Kops” for their bungled response.

“Enbridge is fast becoming to the Midwest what BP was to the Gulf of Mexico, posing troubling risks to the environment,” U.S. Representative Ed Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

“The company must be forthcoming about this entire incident, and deserves a top-to-bottom review of their safety culture, procedures and standards,” said Markey, an outspoken critic of increasing imports of Canada’s heavy oil sands crude.

Canada is the largest source of foreign crude for the United States, supplying over 2.4 million bpd of the more than 8.3 million bpd of imported by the nation on average in July. Enbridge’s lines, the world’s largest crude oil pipeline system, carry the lion’s share of those shipments.

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