New Safety Agreement Inked for Line 5 Pipeline

Divers examine Line 5

By Dave Rosenthal

The state of Michigan and Enbridge Inc. have settled on new safety measures for Line 5, the 645-mile oil and gas pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

The agreement, announced Monday, requires Enbridge to halt transmissions during "adverse weather," replace a section of the pipeline and make other changes along the underwater route where Lakes Michigan and Huron meet.

“Business as usual by Enbridge is not acceptable and we are going to ensure the highest level of environmental safety standards are implemented to protect one of Michigan’s most valuable natural resources,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.

Enbridge said Line 5 "remains in good shape and is fit for service. We realize our internal technical studies and understanding haven’t translated well into reassuring the public or Michigan leaders about the ongoing safe operation of Line 5. We apologize if our actions sometimes have created confusion."

The agreement comes as Michigan continues to evaluate the risks of Line 5, which runs from Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario -- an area dominated by refineries and other industry. The pipeline carries up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids.

Environmentalists have called for a closure of Line 5, which is more than 60 years old. And it didn't take long for the new agreement to draw criticism.

FLOW, a  group that advocates for clean water, took aim at a commitment by Michigan and Enbridge to study the possibility of placing a new pipe or the existing pipeline in a tunnel.

“While the Governor’s agreement with Enbridge imposes some important interim safety measures, these measures should be steps toward the final shutdown – not replacement – of the pipelines,” the  Michigan-based organization said in a statement. 

Here's more from Detroit-based Great Lakes Now.

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