Advance Notice: Briefs

Enbridge announces 81-foot gap beneath Line 5

By: - August 8, 2019 9:35 am

Mackinac Bridge | Susan J. Demas

A spokesperson for Enbridge said Wednesday that the Canadian oil company is working to remedy a potential hazard to its Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The gap between the pipeline and the floor of the straits is not allowed to exceed 75 feet according to the original agreement between the state and Enbridge. Enbridge reported Wednesday that the gap has grown to 81 feet due to erosion, but that it poses no safety risk, something regulators couldn’t immediately confirm to the Washington Post.

In a statement, Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said, “Enbridge submitted an application to EGLE and the US Army Corps of Engineers … in March of 2018 to install additional screw anchors,” and that the safety measure’s approval is currently pending.

Whitmer wins Michigan Chamber kudos for Line 5 talks

Attorney General Dana Nessel, who made shutting down the pipeline a key campaign promise in 2018, said through a spokesperson that the news just reinforces her belief that the pipeline is a fundamental threat to the Great Lakes’ health.

Attorney General Dana Nessel | Andrew Roth

“Yesterday’s notice to the State from Enbridge that there is a new unsupported span that exceeds the 75-foot maximum allowed by the original 1953 easement reinforces the need to decommission Line 5 as quickly as possible,” said AG spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney in a statement. 

“This erosion makes the 66-year-old pipeline increasingly vulnerable to anchor strikes and potential ruptures and reinforces the need for the legal action Attorney General Nessel has taken to remove the pipeline from the Straits.”

In June, Nessel’s office filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down the pipeline, following one from Enbridge seeking to protect it. Last week, one of Enbridge’s pipelines in Kentucky suffered a rupture that killed one person and injured seven.

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Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson is a former reporter for the Advance. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.