Enbridge: Line 5 under Straits ‘fit for service’


Canadian energy company Enbridge said Sunday that it has finished its tests of Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

“Enbridge successfully completed a hydrotest on both the east and the west segments of the Line 5 crossing at the Straits of Mackinac,” the company said in a news release Sunday. “The segments were separately emptied of oil, filled with water and pressure tested to the same level as they were tested to prior to being placed in service in 1953.”

The oil transport company conducted a study of the west leg of Line 5 and declared it “fit for service” last week. It then conducted a required safety review of the east leg before declaring the fitness of the entire line.

The news release Sunday said the company tested both segments of Line 5 to 1200 psi, “the same pressure it was tested to when it was built in 1953,” it said. Enbridge said 1200 psi was “far above the normal daily operating pressure” of about 150 psi.

“Passage of the pressure test also is a credit to the unique and thoughtful design of Line 5 — from the seamless, cored steel pipes, to splitting the line into two through the Straits, to the low operating pressure — the engineers of the Straits segment of Line 5 had a clear vision for building this vital piece of infrastructure to serve safely in the Straits, well into the future,” the company said.

“We are pleased with the validating results of this very significant test of Line 5,” it continued. “This test was one more in an ongoing inspection, maintenance and modernization regimen for our system. 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.”

The tests followed scrutiny about the pipeline’s safety and integrity from environmentalists and lawmakers. The pressure tests are required by the federal government after the company signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice and is being overseen by the federal pipeline safety agency, the state, Justice and a contractor hired by the EPA, Enbridge said.

Lawmakers have urged more safety tests amid concern over spills.

“A spill on our Great Lakes would be catastrophic with immediate and long-term harm,” said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph. “This test is a step forward but we must remain vigilant as this is high stakes for our Great Lakes. It is of the utmost importance that Enbridge fully complies with the tough standards we mandated under law.

“While this specific test was successful, we must continue to probe Line 5 for any vulnerabilities. I look forward to seeing these additional tests move forward this year for the betterment and safety of the entire Great Lakes region.”