Michigan Line 5 Oil-Gas Pipeline’s West Leg Reopens

Michigan Line 5 Oil-Gas Pipeline’s West Leg Reopens

The west leg of Enbridge’s Line 5 twin pipeline that carries light crude oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan can reopen while the east leg that was reported damaged in mid-June will remain shut down.

Following a lengthy hearing on June 30, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James Jamo amended a temporary restraining order issued June 25 that had required Enbridge Inc., the line’s Canadian operator, to shut down the west segment.

The new order keeps Enbridge from operating the east leg of the pipelines until the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration completes an investigation and until the owner provides agency and state officials with necessary information, completes remaining repairs, and receives court approval.

“Enbridge has now safely restarted the west segment and anticipates operations will soon return to normal,” said Ryan Duffy, an Enbridge spokesperson. “Pursuant to the court order, we will conduct an inline inspection tool run on the west segment and share our findings with the state in accordance with the court’s orders.”

He said the Line 4 east leg will remain shut down “as we work with our safety regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to ensure all of the safety assessments are complete and data provided prior to restarting the east segment.”

The controversy over the 67-year-old pipeline surfaced on June 18 when Enbridge, as part of a maintenance and inspection program, informed the state that an anchor support on the east leg had sustained damage. The support lies approximately 150 feet from a section of the pipeline that showed damage to its coating that was discovered around May 26.

State officials had sought a restraining order to keep both legs of the pipeline shut down because they were concerned about the way the company handled the report of damage to the east leg and how it reopened the west line. The state alleges the company failed to provide information about the cause of the damage to the east leg and, while it closed that line, reactivated the west leg without consulting the state.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the newest court order will enable the state to obtain information needed to ensure the structure is safe.

The order requires Enbridge to provide results on the damaged east leg to the state and the court within seven days of restarting its operation, as well as all other information requested by Michigan officials.