Residents weigh in on new oil pipeline beneath the Tri-States

Construction site off North Bottom Road in Adams County

A new crude oil pipeline is about to get buried beneath the Tri-States.

Residents in rural parts of Shelby County Missouri, as well as Adams and Schuyler Counties in Illinois have already begun to see crews moving dirt and laying pipes.

"I think we need the pipeline. There's no question about it, but I'm just tickled to death they're not going to be on my farm," Duke Lyter, a resident said.

Mounds of dirt meet blue skies at the Enbridge Energy construction site off North Bottom Road in Adams County. Duke Lyter's property sits just north of the site where the Flanagan South Pipeline is taking shape.

"I think it's great that we won't have to rely on foreign oil so much," Lyter said.

When complete, roughly 600 miles of the new line will transport heavy oil from Pontiac, Illinois to Cushing, Oklahoma.

"I think a lot of it has to do with energy independence. This is just another step forward in building that reliance on North American oil and away from oil outside of the country," Litton Power, with Enbridge Energy Co. said.

In a matter of months, pipes will also stretch across a site at 24th and Spring Lake in Quincy to form a new pump station for the pipeline.

"You're going to see a lot of oil from Canada and from North Dakota's Bakkan Region," Power said.

Power says the Tri-State area is no stranger to underground pipelines. Portions of Quincy are already sitting on the 60-year-old Spearhead Pipeline, also owned by Enbridge. The new pipeline is a larger version, an expansion of the company's efforts to bring more oil to the Gulf for gasoline, diesel and chemical production.

Crews expect to finish the $2.6 billion project in 8 or 9 months and have oil moving through by late spring or early summer of next year.

With the construction comes concerns from area residents regarding their property and possible oil leaks.

"I'm just glad it's on the other guy's farm," Lyter said.

"It's definitely possible that landowners have concerns, but we do anything we can to mitigate safety risks. We have a very extensive maintenance program," Litton said.

Power says there are safety measures in place. If there are any change in pressure throughout the pipeline, Enbridge can quickly locate the problem and shut off area valves if needed.

"Modern technology has come really far. It's not like it used to be. Our ability to detect and prevent problems is just incredible to even what it was 10 years ago," Power said.

As far as landowners who fall into the line of construction, Power says the company tries to design its right of ways to avoid any permanent structures, but sometimes that's hard to do.

"We had to give up about an acre and a half for workspace for them," Lyter said.

In cases where construction lands on your property, like a farm, the landowner can be compensated for a loss of crop for up to 5 years.

"I won't be able to plant till this is all over with," Lyter said.

However, the construction should only last one year, allowing the farmer to rebuild or replant crops in areas along the Mississippi.

"Once this is all done and underground, I don't think it'll ever bother anybody," Lyter said.

Area residents voiced other concerns off camera, including the history of Enbridge Energy Co., the company responsible for a 2010 oil leak in Michigan.

You can read more about those concerns as well as some current lawsuits filed against Enbridge in a detailed report by the St. Louis Post Dispatch here.