The Governor’s office has announced a second agreement between the State of Michigan and Enbridge on the Line 5 pipeline. The agreement provides a clear path forward to further protect the Great Lakes while maintaining the critical infrastructure link between Michigan’s peninsulas and protecting families and the real jobs that depend on Line 5 for moving energy to where it’s needed.
The Alternatives Analysis completed this summer concluded that construction of a tunnel beneath the lakebed of the Straits connecting the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, and the placement in the tunnel of a new oil pipeline, was a feasible alternative for replacing the dual pipelines, and would essentially eliminate the risk of adverse impacts that may result from a potential oil spill in the Straits.
The agreement signed on October 3, 2018 gives the go-ahead for the State and Enbridge to pursue further agreements related to the design, construction, operation, management, and maintenance of a Straits Tunnel that could accommodate a replacement for the dual pipelines and potentially house multiple utilities including telecommunications and electric transmission lines.
The "historic agreement" will eventually eliminate "nearly every risk" of an oil leak into the Straits, Snyder said, while allowing for multiple utilities to share the tunnel, "better connecting our peninsulas, improving energy security and supporting economic development."
The first agreement, signed in November of 2017, set forward a plan to improve coordination between the company and the State for the operation and maintenance of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, while providing enhanced transparency to the citizens of Michigan.
The commitments based on the Nov. 2017 agreement include replacing the Line 5 St. Clair River crossing; discontinuing Line 5 operations in the Straits during sustained adverse weather conditions; using technologies to enhance leak detection and condition of coating; and Implementing measures to mitigate potential vessel anchor strikes.
The second agreement will provide financial assurances from Enbridge to meet the costs of a Straits worst-case scenario spill and includes provisions intended to reduce the likelihood of a leak from the existing pipes while the tunnel is built.
These additional measures include; underwater inspections to detect potential leaks and evaluate pipe coating; placement of cameras at the straits to monitor ship activity and help enforce a no-anchoring zone; a pledge that Enbridge personnel will be available during high-wave periods to manually shut down the pipelines if electronic systems fail; and steps to prevent leaks at other places where Line 5 crosses waterways.
“The agreement aims to reduce the likelihood of a leak from the existing pipes while the tunnel is built and ensure close collaboration between Enbridge and the state after the new pipeline becomes operational, officials said. It also improves the safety of other Line 5 water crossings, Enbridge's Duffy said.
“We believe this agreement makes a safe pipeline even safer,” Duffy said.