Enbridge: Michigan oil pipeline needs reinforcement

Dents from an April incident that also damaged power cables could be fixed using a type of sleeve, the company said.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  May 16, 2018 at 8:50 AM
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May 16 (UPI) -- A pipeline system running through northern Michigan waters was dented by an April maritime incident and requires reinforcement, pipeline company Enbridge said.

Canadian pipeline company Enbridge operates a broad network of pipelines that send Canadian oil through the region and Line 5 of that system runs through the narrow Straits of Mackinac separating Michigan's two peninsulas. The company took immediate action after learning of dents on the pipeline system caused by a maritime incident in April. No leaks were reported.

"A review of all leak detection systems and data from several inspections indicates that the structural integrity of the pipelines has not been compromised," Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy told UPI. "We are taking immediate action to assess appropriate, reinforcing repairs."

Two submarine cables operated by American Transmission Co. that send power between the peninsulas were also damaged in the early April incident. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Michigan company VanEnkevort Tug and Barge was responsible for the incidents because one of its ships dragged an anchor through the straits, causing the damage in violation of state law.

An agreement with the state of Michigan means Enbridge needs to shut the line down because of extraordinary issues. Severe weather in December and a power outage at a Wisconsin terminal in mid-April prompted Enbridge to shut the system down briefly.

Line 5 runs through Michigan's Upper Peninsula, through the turbulent Straits of Mackinac and then east to Ontario, and is a looming source of concern in Michigan. State agencies last year expressed concern with gaps in the protective coating on parts of Line 5 in the straits, at least one of which was caused when Enbridge installed new supportive anchors. Recent inspections revealed dozens of gaps across the span of the pipeline.

Duffy said the company is considering using a composite sleeve to fit over the areas of the system affected by the April tug incident.

"While our test results show that there is no structural damage we feel making reinforcing repairs is the right thing to do in order to give Michigan residents peace of mind," he said.

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