Enbridge: Four bare spots on Line 5 will be repaired

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Enbridge said Tuesday it has found four spots on Line 5 where there is exposed metal that will be repaired in the coming weeks, but there are no leaks and that it is safe.

The issue with the tar-enamel coating on the nearly inch-thick line was found recently by crews doing its seasonal maintenance work for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac at the beginning of May, a spokesman for the Canadian firm said.

"We found there's no integrity issue. It's a coating issue," Enbridge's Ryan Duffy said. "We're going to do the coating repair work which we have experience doing."

The continued operation of Enbridge’s Line 5 has been a source of concern among environmental groups, who fear a leak from the 67-year-old pipeline could be a disaster for two Great Lakes. 

Concerns have amplified in recent years as environmental groups have highlighted a lack of communication between the state and Enbridge that has, in some instances, led to a lack of information or misinformation on the pipeline's condition. 

Enbridge resumed partial operation Saturday to its Line 5 pipeline under the Straights of Mackinac.

Most recently, Enbridge notified the state in January that a piece of drilling debris that broke off into the lake bed during soil sampling was 270 feet, not the 40 feet the state initially cited in a Dec. 3 letter to Enbridge. 

On the four bare spots, Duffy said it would take about five to 10 days to make the repairs, and the company has alerted state environmental officials about the issue. The state has already approved of its work plan prior due to seasonal maintenance, he said.

"It's something we do seasonally. We take a look at the coating while we're down there," Duffy said. "We know how to do the work on that."

Work crews also installed seven new steel screw anchors with 13 more to complete the current span management program, Enbridge said.

The issue with coating has come up over the years. Enbridge officials said the bare metal spots range from 0.07 to 0.43 square feet each or less than 6 square inches.


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