Enbridge says 2nd pressure test shows Line 5 is safe

Jun 20, 2017

Line 5, the oil and gas pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.
Credit University of Michigan study video

Enbridge Energy says pressure tests on two sections of Line 5 that runs under the Straits of Mackinac show the pipeline is well-maintained and does not pose a threat to the Great Lakes.

Enbridge says a test over the weekend of the line that runs under the west bay of the Straits of Mackinac showed no signs of leaks or breaks. Enbridge ran a successful test of the east line earlier this month.          

“Our job continues to be ensuring the safety and reliability of Line 5 through the straits, as well as our entire system in every community through which it traverses,” said Enbridge regional director John Gauderman. “We are pleased with the validating results of this very significant test of Line 5. This test is one more in an ongoing inspection, maintenance, and modernizing regimen for our system.”  

The pressure test on Line 5 is part of a court settlement following the Kalamazoo River spill seven years ago. But environmental groups say it’s a minimal check that doesn’t fully assess the stability of the line.

That’s roughly the equivalent of me going out to my car with an old, bald, cracked tire, being able to inflate the pressure to its original intended pressure, and then saying it’s fine to drive on because of that,” said Sean McBrearty with Clean Water Action. He says the test isn’t a thorough measure of every stress point on the pipe.

The company is in the process of adding anchors to the pipeline after the state found Enbridge in violation of the term of its easement under the straits. McBrearty and other environmentalists say that’s enough for the state to order Enbridge to shut down stop shipping light crude and natural gas through the line.

A state board is waiting on two Line 5 studies to be issued no later than next week. One assesses the safety of line. The other is on potential alternatives to running pipes under the water.