Enbridge halts Indiana tank testing after dye release

Schererville, Ind. — Enbridge Energy crews have halted pressure testing of new oil storage tanks after a blue dye used in the testing spread along miles of northwestern Indiana waterways over the weekend.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management spokesman Dan Goldblatt said the dyed water did not harm fish, animals or humans when it entered between six and eight miles of the Littler Calumet River’s tributaries.

He said Enbridge was testing its new tank farm for leaks using water infused with blue dye before releasing that water into Schererville’s sewers, as it has approval to do. But the complex’s wastewater treatment process failed to remove the dye from the water.

“It was treated, they just didn’t get the color out,” Goldblatt told The (Munster) Times.

Dan Repay, executive director of Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission, said Schererville’s sewers became overwhelmed and released the dyed water into tributaries.

Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said the company has halted its testing and is working with IDEM to install a carbon filtration system to remove the rest of the dye.

The Houston-based energy company had been hydro testing a 575,000-barrel oil storage tank built as part of a $250 million investment into its terminals in Griffith and Schererville, which are handling greater quantities of crude oil from North Dakota, Montana and Canada.

Smith said the dyed water revealed no leaks in that tank, but the complex’s wastewater treatment process didn’t remove the dye as it was expected to. She said the dye is nonhazardous, “similar to the type of dye that Chicago uses to dye the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day.”

Tom Molnar, who lives along Dyer Ditch, said he first noticed the dye Saturday and that the waterway was still blue on Tuesday.

“I’m used to seeing it kind of a brown color, so this was a surprise,” he said.