- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

HUDSON, Ill. (AP) - Crews working on a 168-mile Enbridge oil pipeline are damaging wet fields in central Illinois, according to local farmers.

A meeting is scheduled Friday among the Illinois Farm Bureau, Enbridge officials and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, The (Bloomington) Pantagraph (https://bit.ly/1fMhT1T ) reported.

Tim Killian, who farms south of Hudson in McLean County, said Enbridge’s Southern Access Extension pipeline crews came onto his farmland and started removing wet top soil to make way for future work. Killian’s land hasn’t been tilled for 30 years because it allows the organisms in the soil to consume residue and slows the flow of water, keeping the soil in place, he said.

“To shove it around when it’s wet destroys the structure and upsets the microbial action in the soil,” Killian said. “It’s been greatly disturbed. It’s going to be a long time of healing to get it back to where it was.”

Other farmers also have told the farm bureau that pipeline crews went into wet fields and have provided photos showing the damage

“Some of the ruts are deeper than 10 inches,” said Terry Killian, who is Tim Killian’s brother and who also owns farmland in the area.

Officials hope Friday’s meeting will help resolve issues posed by the construction, said Laura Harmon, senior counsel for the farm bureau.

It also will be determined whether or not Enbridge followed an agriculture impact mitigation agreement, created by the state Department of Agriculture in 2007 and recently amended, which sets standards for construction projects involving farmland to ensure the land is restored properly, she said. The pact includes a provision for construction during wet weather.

“The farms they’re going across will not be back to the same condition in my farming career (the next 20 years),” said Mike Kelley, chairman of the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation board. “They are causing damage to the topsoil and the subsoil.”

Jennifer Smith is manager of stakeholder relations for Enbridge. She said the project takes the complaints seriously and is in discussions with individual landowners and farm bureaus.


Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com

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