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Report: Repairs needed to pipeline in marsh

MILWAUKEE (AP) — An eastern Wisconsin pipeline that spilled thousands of gallons of gasoline in the town of Jackson in July needs repairs where it crosses wetlands in the Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area, according to documents released by state environmental officials.

The documents say the repairs must be completed to prevent a spill in the publicly owned recreation and hunting land, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The repairs involve welding metal sleeves onto the outside of the pipes or replacing sections of the line if necessary.

An internal inspection of the line found nine sections of pipe were degraded and must be reinforced with a metal sleeve or risk a spill, a consultant for West Shore Pipe Line Co. of Illinois told the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in an early March request to temporarily disturb wetlands for the work. The consultant, Arcadis U.S. Inc., asked for state approval “as soon as possible.”

Degradation of the line is described as “metal loss” in the document but it does not detail whether the aging pipe is thin or if welds of pipe seams have deteriorated, the Journal Sentinel reported. The regional line from northwest Milwaukee to Green Bay was built in 1961.

Wrapping the 52-year-old pipe with a full metal sleeve at the nine locations will double the thickness of the line, said Patrick Hodgins, director of health, safety, security and environment for Buckeye Partners LP of Houston. Buckeye operates the line for West Shore.

Hodgins described the work as “preventive maintenance.”

On July 17, an estimated 54,600 gallons of gasoline were spilled in the town of Jackson when a welded seam ruptured along several feet of pipe in a farm field. The Jackson Marsh wildlife area is about 2.5 miles north of the farm field where the gasoline spilled.

The DNR recently approved the repair project at Jackson Marsh. Crews already have created a 20-foot-wide timber road stretching six-tenths of a mile through lowland forest from a county highway to the pipeline right of way, and a similar timber road for heavy equipment will be completed atop wetlands before pipeline excavation begins, according to Arcadis. All of the degraded pieces of pipe are within that stretch of the line. An estimated 141,700 square feet of wetlands will be covered by the timber mat for three weeks or longer.

At each of the nine repair sites, a trench 75 feet long and 8 feet wide will be excavated to expose the pipe. Water will be pumped out of the trenches so the pipe can be fully exposed.

Under state regulation, excavation cannot begin until 40 days after publication of a notice of the project in a local Washington County newspaper. The 40-day waiting period will end in late April, DNR water management specialist Ben Callan said.

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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