Crews worked Monday to replace a 12-foot section of pipe at the site of an oil leak outside Chicago that led to a spike in regional gasoline prices, but it could take weeks to clean up the contamination, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said.
A two-inch diameter hole was found in the bottom of the pipe, owned by the same company whose pipeline spewed oil into a southern Michigan waterway in July. Sam Borries, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator, said the exact cause of the Illinois failure and the total volume of the spill were not yet known.
The leak was discovered Thursday in Romeoville along a 34-inch pipeline that runs 465 miles from Superior, Wis., to Griffith, Ind. The pipeline was five feet underground, but oil that was pushed to the surface reached a retention pond and the town’s wastewater treatment plant, Borries said.
He said pipeline owner Enbridge Energy Partners has captured about 12,100 barrels of an oil and water mixture, and the continuing recovery could take weeks. The company also must excavate contaminated soil and test groundwater, Borries said.
An Enbridge spokeswoman did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Monday.
Borries said it was unclear how soon the pipeline could be returned to service, but the decision will be made by other investigating agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board. A message was left Monday with an NTSB spokesman.
The pipeline closure disrupted the supply of crude oil to Midwestern refineries, and pushed prices higher prices at gas pumps in the region, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.
In Chicago, the average gas price jumped seven cents from Saturday to Sunday, according to AAA. Some stations increased their price for a gallon of regular from $3.05 on Friday to $3.29 on Sunday.
In Milwaukee, the average price Friday was $2.70, according to AAA, but some stations were selling a gallon for $2.89 or more Saturday. Cities across Indiana, Michigan and Ohio had similar increases during the weekend.
Kloza predicted gas prices would go up as much as 30 cents a gallon, depending on how long the pipeline is out of operation.
Enbridge also owns a pipeline that ruptured in Marshall, Mich., in July and leaked at least 800,000 gallons of oil into a waterway there. A congressional hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on that spill.
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