State, Snyder and Bergman call out Enbridge over Line 5 concerns

LANSING — The State of Michigan has officially called on Enbridge Energy Partners to give the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board a full accounting of the status of Line 5.

Earlier this week, Enbridge released that additional coating gaps were discovered during the company’s most recent inspection of the pipelines.

Governor Rick Snyder said the announcement was “deeply concerning” and that it is “vitally important that the company immediately becomes much more transparent about the condition of Line 5.”

His full statement reads “Enbridge’s announcement today about Line 5 is deeply concerning. While it does not indicate any imminent danger for the Great Lakes, this causes significant concern for the long term. I am no longer satisfied with the operational activities and public information tactics that have become status quo for Enbridge. It is vitally important that Enbridge immediately become much more transparent about the condition of Line 5 and their activities to ensure protection of the Great Lakes.”

Congressman Jack Bergman, who is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said he fully support’s Snyder’s efforts to hold Enbridge accountable.

“Today I spoke with Governor Snyder about the recent information pertaining to the damaged protective coating on Pipeline 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. For well over a year now I have been calling for full transparency from Enbridge on the safety of this pipeline, and it is very disturbing to learn they have known about the damage to the protective coating since 2014. While this does not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the line, I am troubled that Enbridge would willingly hide this from the public,” the Congressman said in a statement.

Below is more information regarding the state’s release, with information about public meetings about the pipeline.

The State of Michigan today called on Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. to give the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) a full accounting of the status of the Line 5 pipeline in light of new information released today by Enbridge that additional coating gaps were discovered during the company’s most recent inspection of the dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge must give the presentation at the PSAB’s meeting Dec. 11 in Lansing about all the findings it has made about the pipeline’s condition, that of its protective coating and anchors, and the results of its video inspections, automated in-line tests, and recent hydrostat and biota testing.

The new information comes after the State requested inspections of each of the anchor locations following initial reports of coating gaps. Those inspections have been completed at 48 of 128 locations, and a majority of those 48 areas have gaps, Enbridge told the state today.

“This is very troubling and points out exactly why the state has been vigilant about getting information from Enbridge,” said Heidi Grether, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality and co-chair of the PSAB. “It is essential that we get adequate and accurate information from Enbridge to allow the State to continue our pursuit of protecting the Great Lakes.”

Besides ordering the presentation, the State said it will bring on additional technical expertise to evaluate the information Enbridge is to provide about the condition of the pipeline that was built in 1953. A 4.5-mile section of the line from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac within an easement issued in 1953 by the State of Michigan.

“A year ago, Enbridge said there were no coating gaps in the Straits pipeline. Now, there are dozens. When will we know the full accounting of what Enbridge knows about Line 5?” said Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy and co-chair of the PSAB. “I sincerely hope there are no more surprises when Enbridge gives their presentation to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board in December. We and the people of Michigan deserve nothing less, and the State will be bringing on additional experts to examine Enbridge’s information and challenge it where necessary.”

The latest Enbridge information comes just a week before the State is to release on Nov. 20 the final version of the Line 5 Alternatives Analysis report. Developed by independent contractor Dynamic Risk, the report studies what options are available for transporting the 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids that run through Line 5.

Public feedback sessions in December

Three public feedback sessions have been scheduled after the Alternatives Analysis release:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 6, in Taylor, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center, Wayne County Community College District, Downriver Campus, 21000 Northline Road.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 12, in St. Ignace, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Little Bear Arena & Community Center, 275 Marquette St.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Traverse City, beginning at 6 p.m., West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort, Leelanau Banquet Rooms, 615 E. Front St.

The report will be posted on the PSAB website and the public will have 30 days to make comments online about what the State should do regarding the future of Line 5. The Dec. 22 deadline for comments includes two additional days to account for the Thanksgiving state holidays during the comment period. Comments can also be mailed to: Department of Environmental Quality, Attn: Line 5 Alternatives Analysis, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909-7973.

Dr. Guy Meadows, a professor at Michigan Technological University who is in talks with the state to perform a risk analysis of the pipeline, will also be asked to include information contained in today’s revelations in his report, which is expected to be completed next summer.

The PSAB’s next quarterly meeting is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Causeway Bay Lansing Hotel and Convention Center, Ballrooms F-J, 6820 S. Cedar St., Lansing.

The State will use the information from the Enbridge presentation, the Alternatives and Risk studies, and the outside expert review to ensure the informational basis for any decision about the future of Line 5 is robust and complete.

Keep up on PSAB activities by signing up for its listserv.