Citizens Groups Call for Increased Scrutiny of Enbridge’s Decaying Line 5 Great Lakes Pipeline
Michigan government officials responsible for protecting the Great Lakes, Michigan jobs, and the state’s drinking water sources must subject Enbridge’s 67-year-old Line 5 pipeline in the Great Lakes to increased scrutiny in the wake of public disclosure today that its violation of a court agreement on pipeline safety measures has resulted in $6.7 million in fines.
Published reports say Enbridge agreed to pay the fines after federal regulators said Enbridge failed to properly evaluate dents to pipelines along the company’s Lakehead Pipeline System, which includes the Line 5 pipeline that crosses the open waters of the Straits of Mackinac and through 400 other Michigan waterways. Most of the safety violations reportedly related to Enbridge's Line 1 in Minnesota.
Video of anchor strike on Enbridge Line 5 west pipeline in Straits of Mackinac
“The Great Lakes provides drinking water for more than 48 million people in the U.S. and Canada, and every day that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline is operating endangers the Great Lakes, our drinking water, and Michigan jobs,” said David Holtz, communications coordinator for Oil & Water Don’t Mix, a coalition of individuals, organizations, businesses, and tribes working to keep oil out of the Great Lakes. “Enbridge was forced to pay these fines because they violated a federal court order and put people and the environment at risk. This is not a one-off deal. Enbridge’s long history of violating the law and ignoring safety must be considered as it continues transporting 23 million gallons of oil and other dangerous petroleum liquids through the Straits every day.”
"This is not a one-off deal. Enbridge’s long history of violating the law and ignoring safety must be considered as it continues transporting 23 million gallons of oil and other dangerous petroleum liquids through the Straits every day.” - David Holtz, Oil & Water Don't Mix communications coordinator
Enbridge is asking the state of Michigan to approve permits that would allow Line 5 to continue operating indefinitely in the Great Lakes. Enbridge’s track record includes:
- Enbridge’s negligence caused the largest oil pipeline rupture in Michigan history into the Kalamazoo River watershed near Marshall 10 years ago this July but they were allowed to construct an even larger pipeline to replace the old Line 6B that ruptured.
- Enbridge’s prior track record on fines in Michigan includes $177 million in civil penalties, $1.3 billion in damages, and more than 2.3 million gallons of spilled oil.
- Just over two years ago, Enbridge agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine for failing to thoroughly inspect its pipelines for weaknesses as required under a 2016 agreement that covers their dangerous Line 5.
- Enbridge lied about Line 5 safety when it knew that since 2003 numerous bottom support anchors were missing and failed to disclose it until 2017, nine months after a report documented that pipeline spans of up to 286 feet had no anchor support. Enbridge violated its easement agreement with the state but is now suing to force the state to accept additional agreements that would keep Line 5 operating.
- In 2017 Enbridge claimed that missing protective coatings along the Straits pipeline were a mere “hypothetical” possibility, while at the same time a video in their possession showed areas of missing coatings and the company had known of bare spots since 2014.
- Enbridge’s claims about Line 5 pipeline safety were put to the test when an anchor was deployed in the Straits of Mackinac in April 2018, denting and gouging Line 5. Enbridge’s technology failed that test when, despite the damage to Line 5, no warnings were triggered. Three weeks passed before underwater vehicles contracted by Enbridge could safely navigate the turbulent Straits to put eyes on the damage.