11.08.17

MLive: Stabenow, Peters join outcry about Enbridge's maintenance of Line 5

U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are joining state officials in raising sharp questions about Enbridge Inc.'s maintenance of its Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The two Michigan Democrats today released a letter sent to Enbridge CEO Al Monaco in which they expressed "great concern" about the pipeline's condition, as well as the accuracy of the company's communications.

In recent months, Enbridge has disclosed there is damage to the protective coating on the pipeline. It also has been revealed that Enbridge has known about the damage since 2014.

Those revelations occurred after Enbridge assured state and federal officials in March that there was "no indication of any anomaly with the outer wrap or other elements of the coating, including the enamel layer that covers the pipeline."

The Nov. 7 letter from Stabenow and Peters noted that Enbridge has blamed "internal reporting issues" for the discrepancies between "facts on the ground and the information provided to state regulators."

"This explanation is simply unacceptable," the letter said in an underlined sentence.

The letter asks Monaco to respond to several questions, including how Enbridge is correcting its reporting procedures; whether there are additional anomalies not yet made public, and how state and federal officials can be assured that Enbridge is offering accurate information.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is considering Enbridge's application to install 22 new support anchors on the pipeline as a means to avoid unsupported spans where erosion washes the bottom away.

Such spans violate the pipeline easement if they exceed 75 feet.

Any decision on that won't happen until next spring, and the damage disclosure will be considered during application review, the state says.

The decision deadline is March 2, 2018. DEQ officials have said they will take the recent revelations "very seriously."

Enbridge has said the 2014 damage "did not harm the pipe itself," the gaps have since been repaired, and Line 5's structural integrity "was never compromised."

Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican who is running for election as Michigan governor in 2018, said the company needs to do more than just apologize. Schuette said in 2025 that Line 5's days were "numbered" and has called for decommissioning schedule.


By:  Julie Mack
Source: MLive