Council for the Rural Municipality of Ritchot will allow a noise exemption so that Imperial Oil can complete its unplanned maintenance near St. Adolphe, as quickly as possible.

Imperial Oil announced on Sunday that following inspections conducted earlier this year, it has been decided that preventative maintenance needs to happen to ensure the continued integrity of the line. According to the company, the work includes replacing a section of the pipeline that runs under the Red River south of Winnipeg. As a result, the line will be out of service for approximately three months.

Imperial's Winnipeg Products Pipeline transports gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to supply customers in the greater Winnipeg region. Imperial and third-party customers ship on the line.

On Thursday morning, Jared Ens-Rempel with Imperial Oil appeared before Ritchot Council requesting the noise exemption. According to Ens-Rempel, the plan is to use Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), which is an accepted practice by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 

The drilling will happen on the south end of St. Adolphe. Ens-Rempel says the drilling will be done from the east side of the river. He expects a depth of approximately 20 to 30 metres beneath the Red River, at its deepest point.

"This is a critical piece of infrastructure for Manitobans at large, as well as northern Ontario, for the purposes of moving gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for daily supply.

According to Ens-Rempel, the expected start date for the drilling is April 23rd. He says the drilling needs to happen 24 hours per day as this is critical to maintain the integrity of the wellbore beneath the river.

"When you stop and start that activity, then you can start to see softening degradation of the drill path," he explains. "As well as can further extend the timeframe for us to complete this critical work."

Ens-Rempel says the noise level of the drilling is about 85 to 100 decibels. He notes that is similar to the noise from a commercial lawnmower.

Ens-Rempel says the drilling itself will last about three weeks. However, with an expected start date of April 23rd, he asked if the noise exemption could start before the 23rd and end after May 14th.

Imperial Oil is also considering using additional mufflers to soften the noise, as well as the use of Sea-Cans to mitigate noise and light pollution. 

"We don't receive these types of requests very often," says Ritchot Chief Administrative Officer Mitch Duval. "Even when we did the St. Adolphe dike extension, that was all done during regular construction hours."

Following the public hearing, Council was unanimous in granting approval to Imperial Oil. The company or its contractors will be allowed to drill 24 hours per day between April 22nd and May 17th. Imperial Oil must take all prudent measures to mitigate noise and lighting and is required to control all dust and debris associated with the operation. Imperial Oil will also be required to repair any damage to municipal road infrastructure.