Enbridge restarts Line 5 as inspection continues

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Oil pipeline operator Enbridge moves under the Mackinac Bridge on their way to inspect their controversial Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

Enbridge Energy restarted Line 5 Monday afternoon as state officials indicated that crews this week will continue to inspect damage to power transmission lines and the twin oil pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac.

On Sunday, severe storms prompted Enbridge to shut down Line 5. But the weather had calmed enough so the Canadian company restarted the east and west pipelines carrying oil and liquid natural gas at 3:15 p.m., company spokesman Ryan Duffy said.

Enbridge plans to continue monitoring the weather conditions in the straits and provide updates to the state and federal officials, Duffy said.  

"Enbridge is committed to protecting the waters of the Great Lakes while ensuring families, manufacturers and other businesses safely receive the energy transported through Line 5," he said in an email.

The development comes a few days after The Detroit News confirmed that the electric transmission lines and Line 5 were dented by a ship's anchor this month and 600 gallons of mineral oils leaked into the straits.

American Transmission Company plans to have inspection crews this week launch remotely operated vehicles to assess damage to its transmission lines, said officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Agency for Energy.

American Transmission Company crews will also continue to vacuum any remaining mineral oils from its underwater transmission lines.  

The mineral oils are used as a coolant in the electric lines and were released when two of six power transmission lines were damaged.

State officials said there has been no major environmental impact on the straits or wildlife from the leak.

Made up of twin 20-inch lines, Line 5 carries about 23 million gallons of oil and liquid natural gas a day from western Canada to eastern Canada.

In November, the state and Enbridge signed a legal agreement that requires the Canadian company to replace a section of Line 5 among other safety precautions. 

It also requires new studies on replacing the entire pipeline with a new one in a tunnel. The studies are scheduled to be completed in June.

Gov. Rick Snyder has called on Enbridge to accelerate the identification of anchor strike mitigation measures and the evaluation of alternatives to replace pipelines.