Enbridge agrees to move 65-year-old Line 5 underground

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click to enlarge In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to look at Enbridge, Inc.'s aging straits pipelines, finding wide spans of unsupported structures encrusted with exotic zebra mussels and quagga mussels. - National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation
In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to look at Enbridge, Inc.'s aging straits pipelines, finding wide spans of unsupported structures encrusted with exotic zebra mussels and quagga mussels.

Following mounting concerns regarding the safety of Line 5, Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy reached an agreement with Michigan on Wednesday to move its 65-year-old oil and gas pipeline to an underground tunnel.

Under the plan, Enbridge would pay to construct a four-mile shared "utility corridor" that would be drilled 100 feet under the lakebed, which is deemed much more safe.

The pipeline has been located along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac since 1953. Opposition to Line 5 has grown in recent years after another one of Enbridge's pipelines ruptured in the Kalamazoo River in 2010. In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to inspect Line 5, finding stretches of the pipeline unsupported by anchors and heavily encrusted with invasive zebra and quagga mussels. The company drew further ire when it was revealed it had been less than forthcoming about reporting the degradation of the pipeline, and this year a vessel damaged the pipeline with its anchor.

Of course, environmentalists shouldn't rest just yet. If approved, construction could take up to a decade to complete, and there are no plans to stop the flow of oil and gas through the existing pipeline in the meantime. So Line 5 could be nearly 80 years old before it gets replaced.

Experts have warned that a Line 5 leak could pose an equal threat to Lakes Michigan and Huron due to the oscillating currents in the straits. As part of the agreement, Enbridge is required to keep $1.878 billion on hand to fund a worst-case scenario cleanup.

Gongwer News Service will have more on this story in today's Michigan Report.
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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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