ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - From the air it looks like a snake stretching out along the rich black earth between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Instead it is a steel pipeline workers are welding together piece by piece.
Enbridge, one of the largest energy transportation firms in North America, is replacing a sixty plus year old pipeline that carries crude oil from Missouri to Illinois. The old equipment is still operating safely, but it is resting in a trench on the top of the river bottom.
The firm wants to minimize any future risks to the environment.
That’s why the new, nearly one mile long pipeline will be pulled through an underground pathway 65 feet below the current riverbed.
Workers in Illinois are using a horizontal drill to cut the pathway while crews in Missouri weld fifty foot sections of 22 inch diameter domestic steel pipe together.
"It is better for the integrity of the pipe, but also will be least impactful to the environment," said Jennifer Smith, a Stake Holder Relations manager for Enbridge.
The pipeline’s construction manager, Randall Nairemore said each weld will be x-rayed and then hand coated to prevent corrosion. The entire pipe will be inspected and tested several times with pressurized water before it is connected to the Enbridge Ozark Pipeline at West Alton, Missouri and the Wood River refineries in Illinois.
Workers are using heavy wood crane mats to protect land in the Jones Confluence Point Park in St. Charles County as they construct the pipeline piece by piece. The existing Ozark Pipeline is buried nearby.
Once the pipeline segment is in use, it will carry 213,000 barrels of light crude oil a day that travels from a central depository in Oklahoma through Missouri to Illinois where it will be refined.
High tech equipment checks the pipeline’s integrity 24 hours a day and the line itself is inspected both from the ground and from the air on a regular basis.
For more information you can visit the firm’s web site at enbridge.com.