Laina G. Stebbins
A contractor working for Canadian oil company Enbridge left an unsecured 15,000-pound anchor between Line 5’s dual oil pipelines on Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) disclosed Friday.
Enbridge says the contractor was conducting seasonal maintenance on Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac Wednesday when the anchor was placed on the lakebed. The contractor then attempted to retrieve the anchor, but the equipment failed in the process and the anchor was left in the Straits. Enbridge did not immediately respond to the Advance when asked for the name of the contractor.
Enbridge informed the state of Michigan of the incident on Wednesday night.
EGLE says it has instructed Enbridge to remove the anchor from the lakebed, which the oil company says is likely to happen “within days.” The agency is continuing to gather facts and information on the matter as Enbridge develops a retrieval plan.
“There was no risk to the pipelines. The anchor was placed in between the dual pipelines in an area more than 500 feet from either pipeline per a pre-approved anchoring plan,” Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said Friday.
This is the second time in the last year that an Enbridge contractor has been responsible for an accident in the Straits, as an Enbridge-contracted vessel caused damage to an anchor support on Line 5’s east leg in June 2020.
An equipment failure in September 2019 also caused Enbridge to leave a long steel rod embedded in the lakebed near the pipeline for months.
“The contractor’s work that triggered this latest anchor incident is being conducted under a permit from [EGLE]. Enbridge was obligated to notify the state about the anchor accident,” said Oil & Water Don’t Mix Campaign Coordinator Sean McBrearty. “This should serve as a reminder that while Enbridge is in federal court making false legal claims that the state doesn’t have jurisdiction over Line 5 in the Straits, the fact is the Canadian oil company can’t ignore the State of Michigan’s responsibility and legal right to protect the Great Lakes from bad actors like Enbridge.”
The state of Michigan and Enbridge are currently nearing the conclusion of a federal court case that will decide whether the legality of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Line 5 shutdown order — which was effective May 12 but ignored by Enbridge — will be decided in state court or federal court.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.