Duly Noted ...

Schuette and Wyant put Enbridge on notice: reinforce pipeline

On July 24, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Dan Wyant sent a formal notice to Enbridge addressing the requirement to install additional anchors for two oil pipelines laid in the Mackinac Straits more than sixty years ago. The State’s formal notice to Enbridge Energy and Enbridge Pipelines, LLC follows Schuette and Wyant’s formal request for information from the companies in April, and is in addition to the recent formation of the Michigan Petroleum Task Force, co-chaired by Schuette and Wyant, to examine petroleum pipeline issues more closely.

The notice from Schuette and Wyant responds to Enbridge’s acknowledgement that it is currently not in compliance with their agreement with the State of Michigan, which limits the maximum span or
length of unsupported pipe in Enbridge’s pipelines in the Mackinac Straits.

“We have a responsibility to mitigate any risk of serious harm to our Great Lakes,” said Schuette.  “If we see evidence that something isn’t quite right with the infrastructure that lies beneath them, we’re going to address it with every tool available.  We will insist that Enbridge fully comply with the conditions of the Straits Pipeline Easement to protect our precious environmental and economic resources and limit the risk of disaster threatening our waters.”

“The Great Lakes are our greatest natural resource assets, and we must do all we can to protect them,” Wyant said. “Installing additional pipeline supports means additional protection, and we look forward to Enbridge completing this work quickly.”

The letter sent on behalf of the State addresses the easement agreement with the State of Michigan that allowed the construction and operation of the Enbridge Straits Pipelines in 1953. The agreement requires pipeline supports at least every 75 feet to ensure the stability of  the pipelines running along the lake bed.

Enbridge recently acknowledged in their June response to the information request that some portions of the pipelines do not meet that requirement, and noted it intends to install additional supports this year so that they would be spaced an average of 50 feet apart.  

The April letter formally requested information on Pipeline Life Expectancy, including details on the construction; pipeline use; preventive maintenance and leak prevention; and spill response plans.
Enbridge’s June response is still under review.