A couple of weeks ago, you may recall that Enbridge announced, rather triumphantly, that they’re done with Phase Two (the final phase) of the Line 6B replacement. At the time, we pointed out that while they may be finished with the only part of the project that really matters to them– getting oil flowing through the pipe– the project is far from finished as far as landowners are concerned. In fact, a great many landowners on Phase One are STILL waiting for restoration to be completed. And they’ve been waiting a very long time.
The fact is, if Enbridge cared even half as much about the lives and properties of landowners as they do about their profits, they would have treated landowner concerns from the start with the same sense of urgency with which they treated their pipeline installation. But restoration and “making landowners whole” has always been, at best, an afterthought.
This morning, we’re pleased to say that someone is finally paying attention to this sad fact. The always-excellent Rebecca Williams at Michigan Radio’s Environment Report has the story.
Just how many landowners along Line 6B are displeased? There’s no way to know, despite Enbridge’s dissembling. A better question is how many unhappy landowners does Enbridge think is acceptable? We’ve talked to dozens. A number of them have told their stories here. How many others have chosen to simply suffer and stew silently (and perhaps helplessly)?
We raise these questions (again) because we happened to have occasion to speak with a Phase One landowner this afternoon that we don’t really know. We listened to him speak for a good 15 minutes about the awful experience he’s had with Enbridge, an experience that is still not over. (For the record, we did not bring the subject up.) At present, like so many others, he’s waiting and wondering to hear from Enbridge about any number of unsettled matters on his property. The takeaway from his 3-plus year experience with Enbridge: “These guys have treated us terrible,” he said.
As we’ve said before, for every unhappy landowner we know about who is frustrated with and angry at Enbridge, there are surely 5 more whom we have never met, who have never spoken a word publicly. This makes it awfully hard to believe Enbridge when they say they value landowner relationships.
While Enbridge has decided to suspend construction activity over on the east side of Michigan, they are evidently continuing work to the west. We’ve been hearing from some more frustrated landowners over the past couple of weeks. A good example of that frustration– combined with more uncertainty and poor communication– is the subject of this latest installment of our ongoing series of landowner stories, in their own words. Exactly what’s happening in this particular neighborhood isn’t altogether clear; it appears to be testing of some sort. Whatever the case, it’s making landowners’ lives miserable:
December 7, 2013
Today, most of my day has been blown dealing with problems related to the Enbridge construction that is currently going on in my next door neighbor’s yard. We live on Dailey Road north of Edwardsburg, along the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline construction zone. Phase 1 and phase 2 construction zones meet in our neighbor’s yard. For the last several weeks, crews have been working 24 hours a day to prepare the new phase 2 pipeline segment to be joined to the phase 1 pipeline; i.e., to make the new pipeline segment active. This has involved pumping air and/or water through the pipeline (and who knows what else is being used?). The pumping noise has been extremely loud, 24 hours a day. On top of this, there has been a steady stream of trucks running all day and all night, making a huge amount of noise. We wake up constantly to the beep-beep-beep of trucks backing up. As one of my neighbors said, the noise is relentless.
This morning, I found a message on my cell phone from (?Joey Brockman?—hard to understand his name) at Enbridge warning us that sometime tonight or tomorrow night they would be blowing air and water out of the pipeline 300 feet into the air, that it would make an extremely loud noise, and that the water was likely to turn to ice. He wanted me to know that it was just water, not a contaminant, but that it would be very loud and ice would likely form. I spoke with some of the workers and then managed to connect with the person who had called me. He said that it would be air, not water, and would be extremely loud. I told him that Enbridge spokesman Tom Hodge had stated on WNDU evening news that in areas where Enbridge is working all night, they have been paying to put people up in hotels and asked why no such offer had been made to us and whether they would put us up in a hotel in anticipation of what they say will be an extremely loud noise at night. The Enbridge person said that if we wanted to stay in a hotel or to be compensated, our lawyer would have to call the Enbridge lawyers sometime on Monday. When I noted that would be after the fact, he said there was nothing they could do. He was giving us a courtesy call to warn us of the impending loud noise and associated activity but that he had no way of offering us a hotel or compensation. We’d have to wait until Monday and have our lawyer call Enbridge. Given that today is Saturday, and this is imminent, Monday will be too late.
I spoke with the local sheriff’s county dispatcher to find out whether there were any noise ordinances that could force Enbridge to do this during the day rather than at night. She told me that the same thing had happened about a year ago and that they had received a large number of phone calls of complaint and worry. She said to expect that it would be extremely loud, like a jet liner taking off right next to our house. An officer was very polite in saying that there was nothing they could do about it, but suggested that if it wakes us up, we videotape it, and that we call them if we feel that we or our home are in danger at any time. He said that we could try to file a complaint but that there are no noise ordinances in our township and that the prosecutor’s office would not prosecute Enbridge, anyways.
After wasting a good part of the day on various phone calls, and talking with some neighbors, here are my thoughts.
First, this is another example of Enbridge’s dishonesty when dealing with the public. Enbridge spokesman Tom Hodge said on WNDU evening news last week that in areas where Enbridge is working overnight, they are putting local residents up in hotels. That is not happening here. As one of my neighbors put it, it’s a complete lie. Many of us have been woken up repeatedly at night and the noise has been relentless. Now, they are even warning us of an extremely loud noise and air (potentially with water/ice) spouting 300 feet upwards, sometime in the middle of the night. But when asked, they say there is no way to put us up in a hotel… have our lawyer call Enbridge’s lawyers to ask (but after the fact). This is another clear example of an Enbridge lie; their PR person is saying one thing on the nightly news but something completely different is being experienced by the people who actually live along the pipeline. Even when we are warned of an extremely loud noise and ask for a hotel, they say there is no way to do this.
Second, people who live along the pipeline have essentially no rights. Even if a problem occurs, our local sheriff’s office tells us that unfortunately there is nothing they can do because the prosecutor’s office is unlikely to act against Enbridge. I must say that our local sheriff’s officers seem to be very good, caring people.
Third, the people who are working along the pipeline are making huge amounts of money (one worker today told me he is making $150,000 a year) but the people who live here are seeing our home life and property values decimated but are receiving no compensation. Enbridge and its workers care only about making a lot of money. They are not ethical in their treatment of the people who live here and pay taxes.
Fourth, Enbridge just can’t get its story straight. First, they leave a message warning of water fountaining up 300 feet and forming ice. [Think about this… high pressure water and ice cascading on our neighbor’s property with the potential for ice to be pushed at high pressure towards our home.] But, when I question their contention that it is completely safe, they change their story to say that it will involve no water, only air. But, even a blast of air coming out of the pipeline may not be ‘safe.’ Pipelines have all sorts of coatings, some of which can contain hazardous chemicals that can get into either air or water at high pressure.
Fifth, what does this mean for our future? After they are done connecting up the pipelines, they will have to start cleaning out the old pipeline, which is full of contaminants from decades of operation. How long will that go on? How noisy will it be? I can only assume it will be happening here, as they haven’t told us anything one way or another. How are they going to protect local families from potential air- or water-borne contaminants coming out of the old pipeline as they clean it? Obviously, they will say it is safe, but how can we believe them? As a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, I have learned about the long history of companies telling people that things are safe when they are not. They have given us no information.
Sixth, I have informed WNDU repeatedly that what Tom Hodge said on their news broadcast was not correct. I even sent them a video with sound of the horrendous noise and commotion at night. But, they have not done a follow up story questioning the PR that was broadcast on evening news. Why aren’t local journalists questioning Enbridge’s PR machine? Will they respond to my news tip about what is supposed to go on here sometime over the next two nights? Will that response be something more than an Enbridge PR person telling lies?
Seventh, is Enbridge doing this at night because they don’t want people to see it? I’ve asked for them to tell me exactly when it will be happening, but they said it was too fluid to predict the timing. On the other hand, they say it will be at night… which can only be because they don’t want it to be during the light of day when people would see it and be able to videotape it easily. I could buy them saying that it will be sometime over the next 48 hours—but they are not sure exactly when. But to say it will be AT NIGHT means that they are purposely doing it in the dark to keep people from seeing and taping what they are doing. That is scary.
Eighth, the workers on our neighbor’s property are working in an extremely noisy environment. Yet, they often are not wearing ear protection. I’ve noticed when I’m out in my yard that I can often see them walking around without any ear protection. When I was there this morning, one of the workers showed me his ear protective gear in a brand-new, un-opened package. So, who is supervising to make sure that all of the proper safety regulations are enforced? I have earaches/ringing in my ears today after only being next to the site for 5 minutes. But, they are there for hours on end and not always wearing ear protective gear. What other safety regulations are they not following? I plan to call OSHA on Monday to make a complaint. BTW, there were no ‘no trespassing’ signs or other warnings anywhere near the site, and I was not asked to leave. I left on my own accord because of fear of damage to my ears. What if I had been a child?
Finally, what kind of Christmas are we going to have? Will the incessant noise and worry (of potential contamination—and who knows what else could happen at a major construction site?) go on all through Christmas as it did through Thanksgiving? Will they offer a hotel or (better yet) compensation? After all, who wants to spend Christmas in a hotel rather than at home? Can we ever believe anything Enbridge says?
This is only one tiny part of a long saga of our problems with Enbridge. This is a company that is making billions of dollars and that is running a dangerous pipeline. It should be treating local citizens honestly and with integrity. It should be following safety guidelines strictly. It should be doing everything it can to protect the local homeowners and the environment. It’s good that Enbridge actually called to warn us in advance; but a warning is not enough to provide homeowners the ‘peace of mind’ that Enbridge keeps talking about. And, I suspect the warning was not for our sakes but for theirs… it could be embarrassing to have a bunch of panicky homeowner phone calls to the police in the middle of the night (which apparently happened before).
December 10, 2013
This morning, we were woken up very early to an extremely loud, piercing noise throughout our house. Once it was bright enough, I walked out and took photos of the site, where Enbridge is discharging vapor into the atmosphere. The smell was quite strong and organic, which caused me to start having an asthma attack. I took a number of short videos and some photos, although it is hard to get clear shots because the work is happening on the other side of large mounds that Enbridge has created.
I called the sheriff’s office and told them about the extremely loud noise and organic smell and the fact that Enbridge may be violating Michigan ordinance 750.352 Molesting and disturbing persons in pursuit of occupation, vocation or avocation given that I am trying to work at home today. I told them that the air pollution was causing an asthma attack. They said they could not do anything about it. I had to cancel a phone conference because of Enbridge’s activities, so it in indeed affecting my work.
I also called the PHMSA hotline and voiced my concerns that Enbridge is venting something from their pipeline activities that is causing not just a huge amount of noise but also a very bad smell in the air. They said they would inform the EPA.
Enbridge has been making a huge amount of noise all day and all night for weeks as they work to link up Line 6B Phase 1 and Phase 2 on our neighbor’s property. Despite the fact that Tom Hodge stated on WNDU nightly news that they are putting people up in hotels in areas where they are working all night, no such offer was made and when we asked an agent who called this weekend, he told us they could not do anything. This is causing massive disturbance for our family. Our son keeps getting woken up at night which is a serious problem when he has school (or SAT tests!) the next morning. We are also woken up repeatedly, and when we try to work from home we are often disturbed. This morning, it is completely impossible to get any work done because of the loud noise and air pollution, and my phone conference had to be postponed. I am about to head out because of this.
I would like to go outside and hold up a sign along the road protesting Enbridge’s unethical treatment of homeowners but the air pollution and noise are too overwhelming. Enbridge has created enormous problems for our family for months. When will this stop? When will they begin to act in an honest, ethical manner? When will they put enough money into engineering (noise reduction, pollution reduction, etc.) that they won’t cause such problems for local families?
Patricia Maurice, Cass County, MI
Just a very quick update: despite our plea from yesterday: as of today, no one from Enbridge has contacted us to get the name and number of the landowner we mentioned yesterday who has standing water and ruts on his property and would just like to get some simple information about the status of restoration– even though we can tell you with absolute certainty that someone (and probably more than one person) from Enbridge read that post.
So once again, Enbridge missed an easy opportunity to do something right, something decent, something that would have cost them nothing more than an email and a phone call. Evidently, they just don’t care.
One of the things we’ve said here many times is that Enbridge is largely in charge of what we write here at the Line 6B Citizens’ Blog. That is, if they didn’t just keep doing the same things over and over and over, we wouldn’t continue to have material to write about. After all, it’s not as if we’re just making things up.
Today is a case in point. We were perfectly content to have an Enbridge-free day, to give them (and ourselves) a little respite from all of these tales of landowner dissatisfication (and make no mistake about it, folks at Enbridge our among our most loyal readers!). But our fellow landowners keep sending us unhappy emails, looking for help, looking for information that they’re not getting, though they should be, from Enbridge. What are we to do?
So here’s what we learned today: just like us, many landowners on phase one have no idea what’s currently going on. Enbridge sent their contractors out to do restoration, did a half-assed job about it (forgive our language), and then disappeared, leaving all sorts of problems behind and no one for individual property owners to talk to about those problems. We’re experiencing this ourselves. Our last right of way agent retired and the person we contacted in his stead to help address some restoration matters we’re experiencing seems to have gone awol. He promised a call “in a couple of days” almost two weeks ago. Why? We have no idea.
And so it is with a distressed landowner who wrote to us today from over in Howell. Enbridge has left huge ruts and a gigantic bowl of water (and it’s not like it’s been raining lately!) on his property, among other things. And he has nowhere to turn. No one to call (no one, at least, who will return his calls). He is feeling “frustrated” and “ignored” (his words). He just wants some basic information, some simple communication. But from Enbridge: nothing. And this is what he’s left with:
We received another email today from a landowner on phase two. She’s also feeling frustrated, but also lied to and misled. She has a situation in which Enbridge told her, repeatedly, for months that they would be boring beneath the road that leads into her cul-de-sac, rather than cutting a ditch across it. Then, right before construction began this week, they informed her that they’d have to cut in after all. But they also assured her they would do so in such a way that would still allow access into the cul-de-sac so that she could, you know, get to her house. So what happened next? Well, they went ahead and cut across the entire road. Just look; it’s all blocked off:
So here’s the thing: Enbridge can posture and tell pleasing tales and pretend like they care and give assurances until they’re blue in the face. But the facts on the ground could not be more clear: Enbridge leaves landowners in the dark, tells them misleading stories, ignores their phone calls, and creates more and more bad feelings, leaves more and more landowners frustrated and helpless. These aren’t the grumblings of revolutionary environmentalists or people who just like to bitch and whine (one of the landowners who wrote to us today said he hasn’t said anything up to now because he doesn’t like to complain; we believe him!); they’re not even windbag bloggers. They’re just regular people who don’t want to stir up trouble, but just want to get on with their lives.
It’s become quite clear to us that people at Enbridge like Doug Aller and Mike Harris, the people whose specific job it is to make sure that landowners are dealt with respectfully, are unwilling to do anything at all to fix these persistent problems; they won’t even return emails or phone calls. So what is it going to take to get someone higher up the payscale, someone like, say, Mark Sitek or Stephen Wuori or Al Monaco to take these matters seriously? To show some real leadership and make sure that the people down the line take care of business in a way that is commensurate with the corporate rhetoric? Do they just lack the integrity and honesty to face this situation for what it is, to live up to their own stated corporate values? Do they lack the simple human decency that would otherwise compel them to not accept that the landowners in Michigan feel helpless, frustrated, and abused?
So, Enbridge readers, this one is for you: if there is ANYONE at your company who cares even the tiniest bit about the frustrated man with the ruts and standing water on his property who is frustrated and just wants to know what in heaven’s name is going on with restoration, please contact us here and we will give you his name and number (without a word of acrimony or criticism or any carping whatsoever about ourselves and our own situation; we promise) so that he can just obtain some basic information and maybe get a decent night’s sleep.
Since it’s been a little while since we’ve posted any, you may have thought we were done with our series on landowner stories (don’t forget about our previous installments!). But we’ve got more! Discerning readers have probably already seen plenty of patterns, plenty of similarities among these landowners’ experiences. Those patterns suggest that we’re not just talking about a handful of mistakes here. Rather, we’re talking about some persistent, widespread, and systemic problems. Does Enbridge have the integrity to own up to them? To take responsibility? To change its ways?
Meet three more unhappy landowners:
Although the pipeline is not directly on my property, Enbridge dug a huge pit across the only road that accesses my home. I was given less than 24 hours notice, no compensation whatsoever and told that they have no land agent that I can go to because their easement is not directly on my property. They routinely trespass across my property and have damaged trees and tore up the road on my property, outside of their easement on the neighbor’s property. They agreed to repair the entire road but never did and I have a large crack across the front of my car from the pits that were left ‘after’ they finished restoring the section the dug up. During the week that I had no access to my home they paid for all neighbors in the same situation to stay at hotels in addition to direct financial compensation. I was never offered this and simply told that I had no land agent to speak to because the pipeline was not directly on my property.
Enbridge has interfered with access to my home for the better part of 2 years during this project and some of their employees on site have been rude and offensive liars. (They even refused to let a propane delivery truck access my home during the winter and then blatantly lied about it. )
I don’t think people outside of the work area’s understand that Enbridge has ‘people’ out here all of the time. We don’t know who these people are and what their backgrounds are. They are nothing like a public utility which has some form of accountability.
Wendy K. Turner, Howell
In regards to the Enbridge pipeline my comments are as follows:
Enbridge told me through their representative and [attorney] Kim [Savage] last year that they would be ready beginning December last year.
They seeded the grass in July this year and of course we cannot use the pasture this year and the next year because their contract with the company who seeded the grass is good for 2 additional years. The ground can sink; therefore no fence can be placed for the horses.
Enbridge worked through the weekends and the State Police I called mentioned that there is nothing they could do.
Enbridge told Consumers Energy to cut some trees because they wanted to relocate the current power line. Enbridge didn’t even talk to my wife or myself to extend the easement in that case. By accident my wife caught Consumers Energy. The trees are still there and not cleaned up, neither did we receive a re-imbursement for them.
What about property value coming down? If there is a leak and contamination nobody will buy the property. The type of material which is going through the pipes under the high pressure increases the threat of damaging the pipes in comparison with “normal” oil. Enbridge still has not finished the spill cleanup on the Michigan west side of the state.
The experience with Enbridge we had was that they are doing what they want and obviously Michigan Government is supporting this with pride.
Georg Galda, Fenton
In our minds we have no restoration. The grade was terrible, lumpy and bumpy. And not all the land was graded. Some (scant) seed was scattered. And some straw was put down. Again, not everywhere. We have weeds growing now. We have sent emails and gotten no response.
Barbara Atkin, White Oak Twp.
It’s been a few days since our last landowner story. But don’t worry; we’ve got more. We think the series has been quite powerful (if you’ve missed any part of it, please take a look back). We wonder what Enbridge thinks. We wonder how many stories like this, how many voices of unhappy landowners they need to hear before they’ll accept that they’re responsible for all the dissatisfaction, pain, and bad feelings. We wonder whether they’ve got the courage and integrity to own up to that.
Today’s story comes from Bob and Beth Duman. You likely know about Beth. She’s a real hero, one of the earliest landowners to speak out, organize, and help inform her fellow landowners about this project. We all owe her a debt of gratitude. And like some others we’ve heard from in this series (and that David Hasemyer wrote about last week in Inside Climate News), the Duman’s home is very close to the pipeline. We can hardly imagine what they’ve had to endure.
Construction work at the Duman’s house.
By Beth and Bob Duman, Oceola Township
An excellent one-word response to your request [for an account of our experience with Enbridge] would be:
Our lives have been turned upside-down for over a year. Dealing with Enbridge, especially with their “musical chairs” of right-of-way Agents, and their continual disrespect of our contract, our rights, and even our good will has created a huge amount of stress within our family and between us and our neighbors. The entire process took over a year, with the invading army driving on their log-mat road for nearly 9 months through our back yard, within 15 feet of our house, rattling our windows, knocking down pictures off our walls, upsetting our dogs, and generally disrupting our lives. All this, after being assured that they’d be “on our property” for 3 to 6 weeks.
Even though we had agreed to a contract with our specific needs detailed in the “line list”, Enbridge managed to come up looking like either fools or uncaring oafs, by ignoring some simple requests, like speeding through our yard, throwing up clouds of dust. Refueling one of the monster machines just outside our bedroom windows. Having to force them to allow a garden hose out to our garden to water it, and a bridge over their log-mat road for our lawn tractor for access to our wood supply. In almost every case we had to watch them, catch them breaking our agreed contract, and then they begrudgingly tried to satisfy us.
One bright spot in this huge folly has been the remediation work of Bowman Excavating, and Marshal Bowman’s point man, Brent Smith. They actually met with us and asked us how we would like the right-of -way restored. When we told them about the 25 years-worth of Prairie plantings that were destroyed, they offered to re-plant it with a selection of native prairie plants, and they put in a water irrigation system to water the plants in mid-July’s awful heat. They hauled in topsoil to replace the sand and gravel that Enbridge left instead of 10,000 years-worth of fertile soil. This has also been a source of many hours of work, as the freshly-reseeded grass came up along with thousands of ragweed and foxtail grass that came in with the new soil. We have spent the better part of 4 weeks pulling out these weeds so that they don’t re-seed themselves for next year.
So we will stick with our first word on the entire experience: Horrific. A monetary settlement 3 times what we were given could not replace the sense that we have been imprisoned in our own home for a year. And this nightmare isn’t over yet, as we are sure that they will be back to have us “sign off” on the work which will release them from any further responsibility for the massive ecological damage that they are causing not only on our 330 feet of the line, but everywhere that their pipelines have leaked or broken.
Sadly, we just read an article in the Livingston County Press & Argus about a landowner on the next segment of the 6B pipeline west of Stockbridge, [David Gallagher]. It could have been almost word-for-word about us, but it was Enbridge doing the same things all over again to a new set of landowners.
If you missed it, yesterday Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter David Hasemyer at Inside Climate News posted a terrific piece on the plight of landowners whose homes sit in close proximity to the Line 6B pipeline. Among other things, Hasemyer notes that there are no regulations whatsoever at the state or federal level that address this matter. Neither the Michigan Public Service Commission nor PHMSA offers any help to landowners. Even worse, the PHMSA-created group that ought to be addressing just this question, the Pipeline Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA), only evades it. As a result, landowners like our friends David Gallagher, Marty Burke, and Judy Tanciar are left with very little recourse. Or, as Hasemyer puts it,
Without state or federal regulations to protect them, people who live along the 210-mile Michigan section of Enbridge’s new pipeline have been left to plead with a company many say is indifferent to their concerns.
One sign of this seeming indifference– and this is one of the things that struck us most powerfully about Hasemyer’s report– is the apparently arbitrary, capricious, or at best inconsistent, treatment of landowners by Enbridge (this is something we’ve discussed from the very beginning of this project, despite Enbridge’s claims to the contrary). Hasemyer asked Larry Springer, for example, how the company decided to reroute around some homes and not others. Conveniently, Springer did not respond to that question. Still, one might similarly ask why Enbridge decided to offer some landowners a “close proximity fee,” as they did David Gallagher, but not others (as far as we know).
Or to get us to today’s installment of our series on “Landowner Stories,” one might also ask why Enbridge agreed to buy out the homes of some landowners, but not others. In Hasemyer’s article, Gallagher says he asked to be bought out, but the suggestion appears to have been dismissed out of hand by Enbridge. But today’s contributor, Amy Moran-Nash of Howell was bought out. But apparently, it wasn’t easy to make that happen. Like the Gallaghers, Burkes, and Tanciars, the Nash home was in very close proximity to the new line. Her situation and Enbridge’s response to it compares quite interestingly, we think, to those others.
By Amy Moran-Nash
The new Line 6B, wrapping around the Nash home.
Our experience was long and exhausting, stressful and life altering. Enbridge however is now the proud owners of the home I grew up in – which we fought for since what we loved has been destroyed (and we pray to God we never face another easement or pipeline project again!) After a mere $3k offer we are happy we stood our ground and gave it our all to fight for what was right. Our land now has 3 high pressure pipelines: the Vector gas line (Enbridge owns a 60% stake of) placed in 2000, an original 6B line replaced in 2011, and the most current line placed in 2013. For our family it has been a difficult experience! In 2010 Enbridge trespassed assuming they had all rights of lands ‘within reason’ as they told us time and time again – they did NOT.
However had we not fought and been advised by our attorney Gary Field we would not have known the extent of their un-rightful taking. The taking was heart-wrenching and the lack of communication extremely frustrating! It felt in most cases we had to pull teeth to get any viable information, after multiple requests and multiple efforts to work with Enbridge. Communication was never fully available. That said, efforts were made by Enbridge when they realized we weren’t going away but it still did not come with any sort of ease.
Pipeline construction activity right outside the Nash’s front door.
The compensation Enbridge offered didn’t even cover replacement costs of damages for 2011; therefore. we would not accept them. For 2013 we were offered $3k for an expanded easement which is divided down the front sidewalk and 6ft from our home… we obviously knew better and dug our feet it. We were not going to stand for Enbridge to railroad us again. Therefore, we went into condemnation – which proved to be long and exhausting. Yet what choice did we have? NONE! We almost gave up several times feeling threatened and hopeless. Looking back we are thankful we fought for what was right – and are grateful in time we will move on… We learned many things, one is that the law really isn’t written in the protection of the people which for us was eye opening and we are thankful for the laws that do exist that held to bring forth some compensation.
Currently we are still living on the property as tenants rent-free as part of our negotiated terms until we find or build a new home. Because Enbridge purchased the home, they will not be restoring it fully. So things are still a mess and we are anxious to be in a new home.
We don’t know about you, but we’ve been finding the voices of our fellow landowners moving and powerful. They reveal how and why Enbridge has generated so much ill-will with its “neighbors” in Southeast Michigan. Whether this is simply a result of “mistakes” or any number of other possible reasons the clear fact is that they have failed miserably in far too many instances (we believe) to cultivate the sorts of landowner relationships they profess to value, failed in so many cases to “make us whole.”
Today’s contribution comes from landowner Bill Aldrich of Davisburg. You may recall that Bill has appeared on this blog before. We turned to Bill when Enbridge first trotted out their mascot “Dr. Michael Milan” (we wonder if he’s still happy?), parading him around, rather offensively in our view, as someone whose credentials as a fancy doctor, a longtime resident of the state, and (judging from his rugged camo outfit), an outdoorsy hunter-type were evidently supposed to impress us all mightily and give his rosy view of Enbridge some kind of special authority. Bill is a pretty authentic Michigander himself, a lifelong resident and an auto-industry career man. So he presented his own view as a helpful counterpoint to the one served up by the Enbridge PR department.
Anyway, Bill’s experience is once again valuable. His list of “images” touch on so many of the themes we’ve discussed here before and that we’ve heard from others: the miscommunication, the broken promises, the “mistakes,” the untrustworthy land agents, the poor communication with landowners, the poor communication between Enbridge’s land agents and corporate, and all the time and energy so many of us have expended on this process and for which we have not been compensated.
By William Aldrich
When I reflect on the entire dealings with Enbridge, it is never a coherent event. Instead, it consists of many individual, fragmented images jumbled together — similar to a bad dream. The only common theme is frustration, anger and a deep resentment of Enbridge and their representatives.
- large diesel generator droning in back yard for about 4 months continuously (running water pumps)
- loss of over 200 trees, many well over 100 years old and had survived the initial pipe installation in 1969
- large portion of area clear cut by Enbridge was used to pile up the trees and roots of the clear cut trees (they clear cut trees so that they could pile up clear cut trees and roots)
- land owner agreement with Enbridge asked that they leave tree stumps in ground (so that they would resprout). The majority of stumps were bulldozed out of the ground and piled up to rot.
- Enbridge removed trees on the very edge of the area they claimed after their representative clearly marked them with “Do Not Cut” ribbons
- Enbridge’s unwillingness to modify boundaries of the work spaces to save specific trees; even when offered with a solution that provided them a larger work space
- Enbridge clearly violated their own overhead maps that defined the work space boundaries. Their surveying team marked an area larger than that defined by the overhead map which was the only definition offered to me. I pointed this out twice; both times they responded “the area is marked correctly.” Only after I documented the violations and provided the documentation to my legal counsel did they “discover their mistake” and mark the boundaries correctly. It was immediately after this event that the trees marked “Do Not Cut” were removed. I can only believe this was done as an outright malicious action as these trees in no way impeded the pipeline installation process. I carefully monitored the entire installation and at no time would these trees have impeded the process
- the incredible disconnect between the Enbridge homeowner representative and Enbridge corporate actions. Prior to the condemnation, several clauses in the legal agreement were ironed out between him and I; when the condemnation papers were served none of that language was included. Enbridge homeowner representative marks trees as “Do Not Cut”; the trees are cut. On multiple times, I was presented with papers and maps for a different property than my own. Incredibly unprofessional.
- Enbridge’s unwillingness to restore the property to its original condition by replanting the same varieties plants removed.
- the investment of my time in researching and understanding Michigan condemnation laws
- the fear that anything I now do on the work space to restore it can be undone at their will
If you haven’t heard, lately we’ve been keeping our trap shut and letting some other people have a chance to say some things for a change. Specifically, we’ve been bringing you some reflections of Phase 1 landowners, in their own words, on their experiences with Enbridge on the Line 6B project. Some of the landowners who responded to our solicitation are people we’ve met before and some not. If you are a Line 6B landowner and would like to say a few words about your experience, please let us know.
In the meantime, here are a couple more, including one from Ellie Vance of Fenton to whom we owe a great deal of thanks. She helped organize one of the first informational meetings about the Line 6B project that we ever attended, an especially important meeting given the fact that Enbridge itself did not organize a single one on this side of the state to help inform and prepare landowners for the project.
I am afraid our feelings about Enbridge have not changed. Both my husband and I remain disappointed in their lack of concern and response. I wrote to Enbridge in June asking someone to come out and take a look at the new damage done to our home. There was never a response at all until Tuesday last. A man that works for Mr. Lopez, the Structural Engineer (biased and paid for by Enbridge) came to our home in 2011 to assess damages then to our foundation, wants to come out and assess the damage this time. I did not refuse him, but since Lopez claimed Enbridge was not responsible for all the cracks that suddenly appeared in our foundation and ceilings and walls , we expect to be accused again of lying to get Enbridge to remodel our home, for the second time, all the while knowing they are the liars, because they and their lawyers are fully aware of what they have done to us all. The list goes on, just as I suspect it does with many of you. Enbridge cleared a path here wide enough to open a two lane runway to land their planes on. No courtesy call on when they will be coming through to replace what they needlessly took, including the markers they pulled up on a parcel that had nothing to do with them. A bill that cost us over $1300.00. Worse than that, people got hurt and several autos damaged, because they could not construct a safe passage for us to cross in our driveway. And these are the sainted ones we should trust to build a safe pipeline. The one very pleasant surprise to us, was Mr. Marshall Bowman and his hard-working crew of men and women. They did a real nice job cleaning us up. Excellent to talk to and get answers from. Respectful and cared about the job being done.We are glad to know him. If Enbridge ever wakes from their drunken, arrogant, lying sleep, they should take lessons from Mr. Bowman and his crew.
We are glad Enbridge is moving on, very glad, but a feeling that down the road a bit , the other of their heavy, stinking, reeking, filthy shoes will definitely drop lingers.
I don’t know why, but the word ‘sleazy’ seems stuck in my mind.
—Connie Watson, Howell
Well, the completion of our “Enbridge Experience” is still out there ….a verbal “promise”. We are awaiting promised additional topsoil, grading of huge ruts off the sides of our gravel driveway, grading of our field and driveway to its original topography (shape, drainage), gravel/spreading on used part of our driveway, and reimbursement for moved trees.
The entire experience with Enbridge has been a nightmare– being unable to escape a contract forged with those who owned our land back in the late 60’s. It has been a nightmare for me comparable to the plight of Princess Leah finding herself chained to Jabba the Hutt.With that analogy in mind, the most positive moments during this extended horrific experience occurred in our interactions with the workers (who were contracted to carry out Enbridge’s plans to completely devastate our peaceful country landscape–trees, ponds, wildflower-filled fields and our personal peace/freedom to pursue our daily activities in order to implant an additional, “new and better” metallic pipeline beneath the soil, under our ponds. Oops! Just venting) On the whole, when approached, any worker would stop, actively listen, and either address my concern or find someone who could. When our driveway was an impassable ditch, the assigned worker was on call 24-7 to provide transportation via an ATV (not fun in March, but only way to reach our car parked on South side of gaping hole and scattered equipment).
—Ellie Vance, Fenton