Enbridge closes Line 5 due to storm
Spokesman says company took the action ‘out of an abundance of caution’
Washington — Enbridge Energy temporarily shut down the recently dented Line 5 pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac on Sunday during a severe storm.
A company spokesman said Enbridge had temporarily shut down the pipelines due to a power outage at the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, where the pipeline originates.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Enbridge will be electing to leave the line down until the weather conditions improve at the Straits,” spokesman Ryan Duffy said.
The National Weather Service forecast for the straits Sunday called for snow and sleet, with 30 mph winds with 35 mph gusts and waves from 7 to 10 feet and occasionally 12 feet. More snow with wind gusts were expected Monday.
Detroit — State officials are threatening to take legal action against a Red Bull-sponsored rallycross series if the organization doesn’t pay a nearly $76,000 fee for a July 2015 event it hosted on Belle Isle.
The Department of Natural Resources, which manages the state park, said it has made numerous attempts to collect the user fee since the Red Bull Global Rallycross race series. The user fee, officials say, is supposed to fund park improvements, such as bathroom upgrades and sidewalk repairs.
But Global Rallycross organizers say they refuse to the pay the fee and allege the state caused them to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket sales during the two-day event when they
The 65-year-old twin pipelines operated by Enbridge typically transport hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily. Critics had been calling on the company to suspend Line 5 operations last week ahead of the storm, following the discovery of three dents in the line.
Officials haven’t been able to perform a visual inspection to confirm the extent of the damage to the pipelines caused by a recent strike by an anchor.
Enbridge has said it shut down Line 5 earlier this month to search for damage or leaks. The anchor strike is also believed to have caused a leak of more than 600 gallons of insulation fluid from nearby submerged electric cables in the Straits.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, had been working with the head of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to didn’t close the island to those without admission.
Now the matter has been turned over to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, which said it will explore “other options, including litigation, to collect the amounts due.”
Colin Dyne, CEO of Global Rallycross, said he initially agreed to pay a $25,000 user fee for the park. That changed when the state threatened to cancel the event because it was being held on the same weekend as a 5K/10K run hosted by the Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program.
Dyne said he was forced by the state to make concessions to keep his event including an increased user fee of $100,000, a requirement to purchase tables, chairs, a stage and other equipment for the 5K/10K and pay for MOTTEP to pressure Enbridge to “take the right action” and suspend operation of the pipeline through the storm, he said.
“It is simply reckless and irresponsible to operate Line 5 under the current weather conditions in the Straits of Mackinac,” Peters said.
“Not only do we lack a clear understanding of the damage to Line 5, but the on-site response equipment available is completely inadequate to clean a potential oil spill under current conditions, putting the Great Lakes in grave — and unnecessary — danger.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, also had called for the temporary shutdown of the pipelines ahead of the storm.
The Straits, the waterway linking Lakes Michigan and Huron, were expected to see winds of 10-15 mph with gusts of 20 mph Monday and waves of 2-4 feet, in addition to more snow, according to the National Weather Service. have a commercial on NBC, which also broadcast the Global Rallycross events.
An application for state land use signed by Global Rallycross founder Chip Pankow shows the user fee was $75,943.
Dyne said he spent an additional $60,000 providing equipment and deploying his staff to setup for MOTTEP’s 5K/10K and another $30,000 on NBC commercials for it. Dyne said he also had to help map out a new route for the MOTTEP 5K/10K so his race series wouldn’t interfere.
Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation for the DNR, argues the state never forced Global Rallycross to make any specific provisions for MOTTEP.
The state asked that Global
“Enbridge takes the safety of the environment and our pipelines very seriously. We understand the sensitive environment in which Line 5 operates. The Great Lakes are a treasure that must be protected,” Duffy said.
“We are continuing to monitor the conditions and provide updates to the State, Coast Guard and PHMSA. We will restart as soon as possible.”
Duffy had said Saturday the Canadian company was monitoring the situation and “should the weather deteriorate to a point where we are concerned about the ability for our personnel to respond to an incident, we will temporarily shut down.”
Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation and a member of Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board,
said it shouldn’t take a senator to push Enbridge to shut down Line 5 when lake swells top 12 feet.
“Time and time again, Enbridge proves by its actions and inactions that we cannot trust its operation of an aging pipeline for the protection of the water, wildlife and way of life which depend on the Great Lakes,” Shriberg said in a statement.
He called on the shutdown to continue “until there is independent verification that all needed repairs are made, including to all previously reported damaged protective coating, and a plan is in place to permanently decommission Line 5.”
A November agreement between Michigan and Enbridge empowers the state to require Enbridge to temporarily cease pipeline operations in the straits during “sustained adverse weather conditions” that would disrupt a response to potential oil spills.
Adverse conditions would include median wave heights in the Straits of Mackinac greater than 8 feet over a continuous period of an hour, according to the agreement.
Coast Guard officials say the inspection of the three dents in Line 5 and of the affected power cables using sonar scanning and a remotely operated underwater vehicle must wait until weather conditions no longer pose a danger to responders.
The Coast Guard said Sunday that a crew continued to work through the weekend on the shore using a vacuum truck to extract coolant that didn't leak from the submerged electric cables. More than 300 gallons of mineral oil has been extracted as of Sunday.
Red Bull Global Rallycross held two days of races in July 2015, which are now the cause of tension between the state and the organizers.
The Straits were expected to see winds of 10-15 mph with gusts of 20 mph Monday and waves of 2-4 feet.