Michigan asks Enbridge to temporarily shut down pipeline


On Saturday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sent a second letter to Al Monaco, CEO of Enbridge, requesting that Enbridge immediately shut down the dual pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac until damage is investigated, assessed and preventative measures are put in place.

“Given the gravity of this matter, I was taken aback to learn the company has unilaterally resumed operation of the west leg without even opportunity for discussion,” Whitmer said in her June 20 letter. “At this moment, Enbridge is pumping crude through the Great Lakes on state-owned bottomlands without any explanation for the cause of this damage to the pipeline structure and no assurance that Enbridge has taken sufficient steps to mitigate future harm.”

She further wrote, “This disregard for the safety and well-being of our Great Lakes, and Enbridge’s due care obligations under the 1953 Easement, is unacceptable.”

In addition to the governor’s prior information request—see letter on page 2—she also asked Enbridge to provide a full report as to the cause of this damage and what measures Enbridge will put in place to prevent this harm from happening again.

Once the state, or a third-party selected by the state, has reviewed this information, the state and Enbridge can discuss when normal operations may resume.

On Thursday, Enbridge alerted the State of Michigan an anchor support on one of the dual pipelines running along the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac had incurred significant damage.

This support lies approximately 150 feet from a section of the pipeline where damage to the pipeline coating was discovered on or around May 26, 2020.

After discovering the damaged anchor support, Enbridge shut down the pipeline and is gathering more information through divers, the use of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and other means.

The east leg of the pipeline remains shut down as Enbridge continues to gather more information.

“One close call with Line 5 is one too many, which is why I am calling on Enbridge to proceed with the utmost caution and care,” Whitmer wrote. “At this point in time, Enbridge has provided no reason to think this damage could not happen again, but next time with oil gushing into the Great Lakes.”


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