Enbridge’s Line 5 flowing at full capacity again

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Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative

The East segment of Enbridge’s Line 5 in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac has received permission to resume operations after a win in state court earlier this month. 

The 7.25 km segment of pipeline – which runs between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron – has been closed since June following the discovery of an issue with an underwater anchor that supports it. The West segment of this same stretch of pipe closed as well, and was stopped and started multiple times following a legal battle between Enbridge and Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It finally reopened in July.

An investigation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration followed to see if the anchor issue had affected the East segment. At the end of August the U.S. agency determined that “there are no indications that the East leg of Line 5 was damaged during the event that damaged the screw anchor.”

The agency “requests that Enbridge restart the East leg during daylight hours; that it monitor the restart; and that it notify public officials in advance of the restart.”

Following this report, Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court authorized the line to start reflowing. 

Enbridge has expressed interest in constructing an underwater tunnel to house the East and West segments of the Straits of Mackinac section of pipeline, but the project is involved in another legal dispute with Michigan’s governor and attorney general.

Line 5 runs more than 1,000 km from its origin in Superior, Wisconsin to its final destination in Sarnia.