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Enbridge ordered to retrieve 15,000-lb. anchor from Straits of Mackinac

driver by Line 5
The Canadian government, citing a treaty with the U.S., has asked a judge to pause litigation between Enbridge Energy and the state of Michigan over the fate of the Line 5 oil pipeline. (Bridge file photo)

An Enbridge contractor working in the Straits of Mackinac abandoned a 15,000-pound anchor on the lakebottom Wednesday, but the incident took place hundreds of feet from Line 5 and caused no damage, state environmental regulators announced Friday.

Enbridge alerted the state to the abandoned anchor on Wednesday night, and state environmental regulators have ordered the company to retrieve it, according to a state release.

“The agency continues to gather facts and information on the matter,” the release states.



Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy told Bridge Michigan the anchor disconnected from its cable while work barges were doing seasonal maintenance work in the Straits. The company’s safety protocols prohibit crews from anchoring within 500 feet of the dual-span pipeline.

“When they went to adjust it, it detached,” Duffy said. “We called (the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) and told them about it and let them know we’re retrieving it.”

The incident sparked outcry from Line 5 opponents, who see it as more evidence that the pipeline isn’t safe. Environmentalists have long warned that the dual-span petroleum pipeline, which sits exposed in the Straits, poses an unacceptable risk of an oil spill.

The 68-year-old pipeline has repeatedly sustained damage from anchor strikes in recent years, and Enbridge has been criticized for being slow to report those incidents to state officials.

Sean McBrearty, campaign coordinator for the anti-Line 5 group Oil & Water Don’t Mix, said in a statement that Wednesday’s incident “shows once again that there’s no safe way to operate oil pipelines in the Straits.”

Michigan Environment Watch

Michigan Environment Watch examines how public policy, industry, and other factors interact with the state’s trove of natural resources.

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