Future of Line 5 Becomes Clearer
On November 27, Enbridge entered into an agreement with the State of Michigan, laying out a path forward for addressing the future of Line 5. The agreement increases collaboration and coordination between the State and Enbridge, and contains seven key actions that move toward a long-term solution. Enbridge thanked those, including the CPA, who sent letters regarding the future of Line 5.
Enbridge hopes the new agreement, summarized below, is a step in a positive direction to demonstrate their commitment to doing the right thing to serve Michigan and protect the waters of the Great Lakes.
Details of Agreement Summary
There are seven main actions being taken to reduce risk and to further protect the waters of the Great Lakes, while making sure the State and the public are informed every step of the way:
- By June 2018, Enbridge will have evaluated three options for the eventual replacement of the dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The options that will be evaluated with the State include: placing a new pipeline in a tunnel under the Straits; installing a new pipeline below the lakebed of the Straits using horizontal directional drilling (HDD); and creating a trench on the bottom of the Great Lakes and placing a new pipeline in a secondary containment structure or system.
- Temporarily shut down the operation of Line 5 when adverse weather conditions create sustained waves higher than eight feet in the Straits.
- Put into place additional safety measures to further mitigate a potential anchor strike from boats in the Straits.
- By June 2018, evaluate additional state-of-the-art tools and underwater technologies that could help further inspect and maintain Line 5 in the Straits and assess the condition of the coating on the twin pipelines.
- Work with the State on plans to enhance safety and reduce the potential impacts at other Line 5 water crossings.
- Replace the Line 5 St. Clair River crossing as soon as the necessary permitting and regulatory approvals are received. The new pipe will be installed underneath the river bed using HDD.
- Increase coordination with the State regarding the operations, maintenance and future of Line 5 and promote transparency between Enbridge and the State of Michigan. State representatives will have access to Enbridge’s data, studies, and will collaborate with Enbridge throughout the process.
Final Alternatives Report
The State of Michigan recently released their Alternatives Analysis for the Straits Pipeline – Final Report. Enbridge believes the Report generally represents a thorough, deliberate and expert consideration of the safety, feasibility and cost of alternative methods to transport energy to the Great Lakes region. Equally significant, the Report reiterates the importance of Line 5 to the region. It also states that from an engineering and operational perspective, on-going inspections and studies show that Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac remains in good shape and is fit for service.
To date, Enbridge has repaired six of the eight locations with coating as a result of damage identified during the Biota study coating examinations. They hope to complete repairs to the seventh location this season, weather permitting. Repairs to the eighth location will not be completed until next season as additional permits are needed from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Enbridge is also currently engaged in regular diver inspections. At some of the sites inspected by divers, they have found calcareous deposit clusters of varying sizes, ranging from 0.0004 of a square foot to 3.6 square feet. Calcareous deposits are known to the industry and are formed by the cathodic protection interacting with water. The calcareous deposits from 11 locations were removed to confirm that the cathodic protection was properly protecting the steel and to gather samples to check the chemistry. There was no corrosion found at any of the sites but the examination has resulted in bare steel at each location that will need to be repaired.