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Wide Gap Opens Beneath Enbridge’s Line 5 In Great Lakes

Enbridge said this week that erosion has caused a wider gap beneath an unsupported section of its Line 5 oil pipeline in the Great Lakes than the gap allowed under the pipeline company’s agreement with the state of Michigan.

The gap has now increased to 81 feet, wider than the 75-foot upper limit set by Enbridge’s easement agreement with Michigan, and up from 66 feet last summer, the company’s spokesman Ryan Duffy told The Detroit News on Wednesday.

The wider gap poses “no safety or integrity risk,” Enbridge says, although Michigan regulators told AP they were unable to immediately confirm such an assessment.

Enbridge applied to obtain a permit to have supports or screw anchors installed at the unsupported section in March 2018, but it is still waiting for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the company says.

“Since learning about it, we’ve been talking with the Army Corps and have told them we want to get out there as quick as we can,” Duffy told The Detroit News.

“This notice reinforces the need to decommission Line 5 as quickly as possible,” the office of the Michigan Attorney General said in a tweet, referring to the latest issue with the oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

“This erosion makes the 66-year-old pipeline increasingly vulnerable to anchor strikes and potential ruptures and reinforces the need for the legal action Attorney General Nessel has taken to remove the pipeline from the Straits,” AG Nessel’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said in a statement to The Detroit News.

Enbridge, for its part, plans to build a tunnel to house Line 5 and is conducting research in the Straits of Mackinac this week to understand the conditions.

In June, Michigan Attorney General Nessel sued Enbridge to shut down the dual oil pipelines running under the Straits of Mackinac because, she said, the 66-year-old pipelines “present an unacceptable risk to the Great Lakes.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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