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Enbridge finds protective coating gaps on Michigan pipeline

Each spot is less than six square inches in size.
Credit: Courtesy of National Wildlife Federation
A diver working on behalf of the nonprofit National Wildlife Federation inspects the Line 5 oil pipelines at the lake bottom in the Straits of Mackinac during a July 2013 dive.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Enbridge says it has discovered four spots on an oil pipeline in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac where protective coating has worn away, leaving bare metal exposed. 

The company said Tuesday its crews noticed the spots this month while installing screw anchors to secure sections of Line 5 in the channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan. 

Spokesman Ryan Duffy says they'll be repaired. Each spot is less than six square inches in size. 

Enbridge previously has fixed several other places on the underwater pipelines with missing coating. 

The company says the pipeline is safe but environmental groups and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel want it shut down. 

Here's the full statement from Duffy:

Enbridge began its seasonal maintenance work for Line 5 in the Straits at the beginning of May and has already made significant progress with several scheduled activities.

Crews have installed seven new steel screw anchors with 13 more to complete the current span management program.

As part of our pre-anchor installation work, crews inspecting the coating of the pipe found spots on the east segment of Line 5 worthy of further inspection. We immediately inspected the line with remotely operated vehicles and with divers and determined there are no integrity issues and Line 5 remains safe. Four locations will require coating repairs where there are bare metal spots ranging from .07 to .43 square feet (each is less than 6 square inches). The coating repairs are anticipated to take 5-10 days.

The ongoing maintenance and inspections for Line 5 worked exactly as intended. In this case we identified the coating issues and we are already moving quickly to make repairs per the previously State-approved coating repair work plan.

Ultimately, the Great Lakes Tunnel is the best long-term solution for Line 5. We believe the tunnel is the best way to protect the community and the environmental integrity of the Great Lakes while safely meeting Michigan’s energy needs and ensuring Line 5 will be an integral part of Michigan’s future.



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