Enbridge retrieves 15,000-pound anchor from Straits of Mackinac

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Enbridge Energy has said it recovered a 15,000-pound anchor from between two spans of the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. 

The anchor, which was left in the water Wednesday, was recovered Sunday using a crane on a barge, the company said.

The anchor was left on the lake bed, about 500 feet from either span, after a cable detached that had connected the anchor to an Enbridge contractor's barge that was doing seasonal maintenance. 

The state directed Enbridge to retrieve the anchor last week after receiving notification from the company regarding the mishap. 

Enbridge has said the location of the anchor was approved by the EPA and the state but became disconnected when a shackle connecting the anchor to the cable failed after the anchor was placed on the lake bed. 

"Enbridge’s ongoing work to inspect, maintain and modernize our pipeline systems further ensures that Line 5 remains operating safely and reliably — helping to protect the environment while continuing to safely deliver energy to Michigan and the Great Lakes region," said Michael Barnes, a spokesman for the company. 

The anchor left at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac last week was retrieved Sunday.

The state and Enbridge have been locked in litigation for more than a year over the future of the 68-year-old Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac after years of concern over the possibility of an oil spill in the straits. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revoked the pipeline's easement in November, but Enbridge refused to stop operations absent a court order. The two parties are expected to complete arbitration in late August. 

Former Gov. Rick Snyder entered an agreement with Enbridge in 2018 for the construction of a roughly $500 million utility tunnel that would house new segments of Line 5. 

The agreement with Enbridge came months after an April 1, 2018, anchor strike that gouged the line when a tug and barge accidentally dragged a 12,000-pound anchor across the pipeline.