Contaminated Ashland soil along Enbridge Line 5 under investigation

By: - August 4, 2022 5:53 pm
Enbridge sign

Enbridge, Sti. Ignace | Susan J. Demas

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is assisting in the investigation of suspected oil-contaminated soil collected along Enbridge Line 5 south in Ashland. According to a DNR press release, an Enbridge contractor reported the soil to the DNR on the evening of Aug. 3. The soil was suspected to have been contaminated near Old Airport Road and Holmes Road, about a mile west of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa reservation.

Enbridge told the DNR company officials believe the contamination was from a historical discharge and not an ongoing leak. All material suspected of being contaminated has been excavated and stockpiled. During visits to the site, DNR staff have not noticed additional petroleum odors or stained soil. Nevertheless, Enbridge will be required to document the actions it takes to address the suspected contamination, as well as document the amount of soil excavated.

Enbridge stated that it didn’t detect indications of a leak when the pipeline was shut down. The company’s attempts to identify a leak were fruitless, and no sign of a leak was apparent when the pipeline was brought up to full pressure. The investigation is ongoing. Enbridge Line 5 has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by the Bad River Band, which is seeking to protect its watershed and sacred sites. The company has long argued that the aging, Canadian-controlled pipeline, is safe and its continued operation necessary. The pipeline’s operation into the future, however, flies in the face of goals to downscale fossil fuel dependence to avoid the worst effects of climate change.


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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.