Enbridge: Line 5 pipeline is vital to Michigan

Enbridge is proud to call Michigan home and we are prepared to protect communities and waterways through the safe operation of our pipelines. Protecting the Great Lakes, inland waterways and the communities along the Line 5 route is our top priority.

Line 5 delivers vital energy to heat homes, to power cars and to fuel manufacturing throughout Michigan. The line transports 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids, including propane. That’s enough to heat 85 percent or 240,000 of the homes in Northern Michigan. Also, approximately 30 percent of the oil transported on Line 5 stays in Michigan, fueling 120,000 passenger cars and light trucks each day.

Construction

Line 5 was built in 1953 to safely provide energy to Michigan residents and businesses and eliminate tanker traffic on the Great Lakes. Enbridge worked with Bechtel Corporation — the same firm that designed and built the Mackinac Bridge and the Hoover Dam — to plan, design and build Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac. The Department of Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan and the Department of Civil Engineering at Columbia University were also consulted and participated in the design review.

The 645-mile pipeline connects Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia Ontario. As it reaches the Straits of Mackinac, it splits into two, 20-inch diameter pipelines that are each 4.5 miles long. The crossing was specifically designed for the underwater environment in the Straits of Mackinac. It was over-engineered, using nearly one-inch thick steel — one of the thickest pipelines in our system. Also, the fiber-reinforced enamel coating serves as an additional layer of protection. The coating is widely recognized today as one of the strongest pipeline coating materials in the world, which has kept the line in very good condition. In short, the line was built to last.

Operation

Enbridge has operated Line 5 safely for more than 60 years. There are a number of measures in place to maintain the integrity and safety of Line 5.

First, a dedicated team of people monitor the line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If there were a drop in pressure, remotely operated shutoff valves stop the flow into the Straits Crossing within three minutes. Also, oil that enters the system is tested for quality. We have performed more inspections on Line 5 crossing under the Straits than any other segment of pipeline in our system and that ensures the line remains in excellent condition.

To further preserve the integrity of the line, we operate Line 5 under the Straits at a reduced pressure, minimizing stress on the heavy-walled, carbon-steel pipe. This insures that the light crude oil and natural gas liquids safely make it to their destination.

Inspection

We inspect Line 5 frequently and have extensive data verifying the line is fit for operation. At the Straits, data on the exterior of Line 5 is collected by highly trained divers and advanced underwater vehicles equipped with cameras. We inspect the interior with devices called “pigs.” They work like small MRI machines, traveling inside the line recording data on the pipe’s thickness and looking for cracks, dents or signs of corrosion.

In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman, Deborah Hersman, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee and stated that, “if [a pipeline] is adequately maintained and inspected, age is not an issue.” Recent inspection reports show that Line 5, from engineering and integrity perspectives, is in excellent condition and remains fit for operation.

Enbridge inspection data is reviewed by the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and shared with state regulatory authorities and with state elected officials when requested. Enbridge is currently working with the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and third parties to conduct an independent review of Enbridge’s integrity data.

Michigan Impact

A lot of people and businesses depend on the light crude oil and natural gas liquids delivered by Line 5. Without it, the state’s access to affordable, secure energy would be compromised. Line 5 is one of several pipelines in our network that support the Michigan economy.

We employ roughly 250 employees and contractors throughout Michigan to ensure the safe operation of our energy infrastructure.

We also provide $22.4 million in annual sales and property taxes to the state. Without Line 5, Michigan’s Detroit refinery would directly lose approximately 30 percent of its light oil feedstock. The rationing of Enbridge’s other pipelines in Michigan could cause the Detroit refinery to indirectly lose approximately another 20 percent. The cost to drivers and manufacturers in Michigan would be significant.

Preparedness

While we have no reason to anticipate a leak or spill on Line 5, we are well prepared for any incident. We have the resources, experience and training to ensure that people, wildlife and the environment are protected. Enbridge conducted a multi-agency emergency response exercise in the Straits of Mackinac in September 2015. The full-scale exercise included the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), along with state and local agencies. We will participate in additional exercises this year as well. It’s part of our commitment to safety.
We want the people of Michigan to have confidence in the way we’re operating Line 5 and know that we are fully committed to protecting and caring for the Great Lakes.

For more information on Line 5, please visit www.enbridge.com/Line5

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

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Comments

Pan
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 10:06am
Those of us that are most threaten by Enbridge' s pipeline five have heard this company line for too long. How can we except the word of a company that brought us the southwestern Michigan pipeline disaster when the same company tells us the ancient pipes under our Staits are safe. We don't want them learning their business by fouling our Great Lakes like they have rivers to the south. After a leak is to late to make a change. Reroute pipeline five oil and close down it down before it is too late! Save our lakes and what is left of Michigan beauty.
Suznne
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 10:22am
I want to hear that Enbridge has conducted an emergency response exercise when the straits is covered in ice. This is one of the worst case scenarios (as if any leak could be a no-problem situation).
Deborah
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 11:00am
Amen!
Lola Johnson
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 11:49am
We've not forgotten the Kalamazoo River. So Enbridge assures us Line 5 is safe. The MDEQ and Emergency Manager assured us that the water in Flint was safe to drink. Tell us exactly what safeguards are in place, and exactly how long it would take to stop the flow of if there were a break. And who has the authority to order a shut down. Their assurances alone don't count for much.
Matt
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 12:57pm
Nice try, but give it up Brad! There's no route, no construction method, no precaution you can take nor is there any risk no matter how remote, nor level of purity ever pure enough that would satisfy the folks opposed to your or anyone else's pipeline. If you expect intellectual consistency forget it. They all drive cars, use petrochemicals and subject themselves to various risks without a second thought. You talk logic, technology, statistics and probability, this means nothing facing the religious fervor of your opponents.
John Grant
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:35pm
If I have to pay more for gasoline, so be it. No, I don't care about stats. The Great lakes are a state, national and international treasure. Its value is beyond calculation or comprehension. Anyone who trusts corporate America/Canada is naive, if not stupid. Remove the pipeline now!!!
MK Hubbert
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 4:27pm
The commentary only mentions light crude traveling through the line, but what about the heavy crude from Alberta? That's what spilled in Kalamazoo and sank! They will never be able to remove it all from the river. I thought the plan was to transport the thicker, more corrosive, less buoyant tar through the #5 pipeline. In the event of a failure and leak, that product (and the chemicals used to lower viscosity) under higher pressure would spew onto the bottom of Lake Huron and be virtually un-cleanable. Is that techno-sciency enough Matt?
Duane
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 9:54pm
I would encourage Enbridge to look at relevant US rules [Mi OSHA/OSHA 1910.119, EPA Risk Management Program] and provide the public with a description of how Enbridge addresses each element of the respective rules [OSHA regulation was first and has been applied around the world]. Enbridge may consider bring in a Michigan based independent group with experience/expertise in the rules to do an assessment of Enbridge practices relevant to the rules. I would further encourage including a few local residents on the assessment team, [the independent group could help them to understand the applicability of the rules and Enbridge practices]. That approach could be an effective way for the public to learn about how to effectively do a risk assessment, how Enbridge both protects the pipeline and verifies their practices, and if a concern arose Enbridge could address it quickly. This would demonstrates Enbridge's openness, commitment to a safe operation, responsiveness to the public, and open a dialog with the public. Enbridge may want to contact Michigan manufactures covered by the rules to better understand the background of the rules and how they have proven effective and how to they address each element.
Dr. Ed Timm
Wed, 01/27/2016 - 8:42am
If Brad would like to stand up and face me in a public debate about the safety of Line 5, I expect we could find a time and place. In the mean time, please come hear what I have to say in Cederville tomorrow night.
Duane
Wed, 01/27/2016 - 11:17pm
Dr., Why do you want to face Mr. Shamla public? What are you particular concerns? How would you like those concerns addressed?
John Grant
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:28pm
Lie #1: "Michigan is our home." No. Your headquarters/home is in Calgary. Lie #2: "Safe operation...is our top priority" No. Your top priority is profit. Making money for your owners (the Koch brothers?) If you can't get through the first paragraph without telling two lies -- well, I stopped reading. If the oil/gas can heat 85% of the upper peninsula, good, keep it up there and shut the effin pipeline down. Please tell me I have a low tolerance for bullshit.
Rick
Tue, 02/02/2016 - 2:31pm
Brad - please tell us about the liability insurance Enbridge carries in case of a disaster. We have the Wolverine pipeline in our county and they won't tell anyone how much insurance they have and they're an 'LLC' (limited liability corporation) so we all suspect they'll just declare bankruptcy and close up shop if there's a leak and it costs more the $1.98 to fix all the damage. Could you please enlighten us?
Michiganlady
Fri, 12/08/2017 - 1:28pm

Lying liars, get out of our state, we don't want you here!!