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‘Hate is a powerful word’

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Scott Sines, ┬ęThe Green Rocket News
Carol and Tom Brimhall have a long history with Enbridge. None of it good.

“Hate is a powerful four letter word. Hate is not a word I use frequently. Careful consideration to the hurtful consequences should be taken into account before using the word hate. I hated Enbridge,” Carol Brimhall says of the events surrounding her mother’s death and her family’s history with Enbridge.

Carol’s story in her own words.
“Over the years Mom expressed her fear of dying in a hospital. She wanted to die in her own bed. I promised her that would happen. During the last year of her life I had to move her to a long-term care nursing facility. I brought her home frequently to visit. Mom would get into her bed for a nap on most days.

Mom fell in the nursing home on a Thursday or Friday (Sept. 13, 14). I received a phone call the next morning telling me Mom wouldn’t wake up. I immediately went over to the facility. I did wake her up, but, only with great effort was Mom able to speak in a whisper. I knew her time to die was very near.

Knowing that my forest was slated for destruction on Monday, September 17, 2012, I sent the company an email requesting a delay. I explained my Mom was in grave condition and would Enbridge give me a little time to let her die, before cutting down my trees. The return email said that wouldn’t be possible. The trees would be cut down as scheduled.

By Sunday, September 16, Mom wasn’t responsive at all. Once more I contacted Enbridge, begging to give Mom time to die before cutting my trees down. The response was … there will be no delay. The trees will come down as scheduled on Monday morning. Mom’s condition continued to worsen.

Hospice arrived early Monday morning. At this point I wanted to bring Mom home. I had hoped that Enbridge would be compassionate enough not to show up. I wanted to believe they would not deny my Mom her dying wish to be in her own bed when she passed away.

Brimhall's property before the new pipeline.

Brimhall’s property before the new pipeline.

The Brimhall's property after the new construction.

The Brimhall’s property after the new construction.

Then the phone calls started. My dear friend, Beth Duman, called to tell me Enbridge had indeed shown up and were cutting down my trees. I could hear the chain saws buzzing in the background.
I knew then that I couldn’t take my Mom home. Mom had loved all of nature. She was happiest down in her woods picking huckleberries or wild strawberries. She appreciated the beauty of nature in every season. Even though Mom was unresponsive, I was convinced that she would know the trees were coming down and it would have broken her heart. Mom passed away at 2:17 PM, Monday, September 17, 2012, at the nursing facility.

Pulling into my driveway I saw what had been done to my beautiful forest and wetlands. It was gone, all of it, gone. I stopped the car and cried. I remember feeling desperation, rage, hopelessness, paralyzing grief. I don’t know how long I sat there. I could feel my hatred for Enbridge growing bigger within my chest, like a cancer.

Tuesday morning was quiet. Aside from four workers walking quietly past the house, I didn’t see or hear anyone. Why couldn’t Enbridge have waited one day to start, when it would have meant something to me?”

Enbridge’s decision to replace the existing pipeline with newer, bigger pipe brought the company back to the Brimhall’s property at the time Carol’s mother was dying. The company was scrambling to meet federal deadlines and needed to add an additional 25′ to the existing easement, as well as another 60′ of temporary workspace for the construction.

The Brimhalls fought and lost. Several hundred additional trees including hardwoods and an orchard came down. The wetlands that marked the entrance to the property is destroyed. “They promised they wouldn’t, but they cleared land for workspace that they never even used,” Tom said.

Brimhall’s history with Enbridge started in 2000 when Vector-Pipeline Co. added a gas pipeline into a 60′ easement for an existing oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Inc. The couple were compensated and used the money to restore their wetlands and forest.

In 2008, Carol called the company because she “became alarmed that the land was shifting around the pipeline. Something is wrong. The ground is sinking,” she told them. “All they did was shove a probe into the ground and said there was no leak.” She asked for a soil sample and was told “no”.

After the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill the company came through to do “integrity tests” of the line. They dug up the pipeline and determined the problem was water pooling around the bottom. Brimhall’s got an estimate of $25,000 for repairs. Enbridge offered $6,000 on the condition the couple could provide details of how they used the compensation from the nine-year-old settlement for damages associated with pipeline’s original construction.

The Brimhalls refused the offer believing the problems were new. They filed a complaint against Enbridge U.S. Inc. asking for $20,000 in repairs, and $5,000 in punitive damages to repair their property.

The company denied that they owned the pipeline. Even though, Vector-Pipeline.com describes itself as “a joint venture of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc. and Detroit, Michigan-based DTE Energy Company …. affiliates include Enbridge (U.S.) Inc.” Enbridge provides operating services to Vector and owns a 60% stake. And Enbridge’s website lists Vector as one its pipelines. The suit is still being litigated.

Carol Brimhall painted and posted protest signs in front of her property.

Carol Brimhall painted and posted protest signs in front of her property.

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