En­bridge closes Line 5 due to storm

Spokesman says com­pany took the ac­tion ‘out of an abun­dance of cau­tion’

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY MELISSA NANN BURKE Detroit News Washington Bu­reau BY NIC­QUEL TERRY The Detroit News

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.

Detroit News file photo

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.

John L. Rus­sell / Spe­cial to The Detroit News

The Straits were ex­pected to see winds of 10-15 mph with gusts of 20 mph Monday and waves of 2-4 feet.

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