DNR asks Enbridge for documentation of inspections, damage along Line 5

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given Enbridge Energy 30 days to provide documentation of inspections and damage occurring along Line 5 in Michigan for the past 66 years. 

The Monday letter from DNR Director Daniel Eichinger makes 20 requests of Enbridge “to determine past and present compliance” with the company’s 1953 easement for the Straits of Mackinac segment. The letter is part of a state review requested last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources wants information and data related to inspections and damage to Enbridge's  Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

Among the data requested by the department is information dating back to 1953 related to any inspections, exposed lengths of pipeline, damage to the pipeline coating, anchor strikes, leaks, breaks, spills and past communication with the state conveying those inspections and concerns.  

“Please provide the requested information within 30 days of the date of this letter,” Eichinger said. 

In a statement issued late Monday night, Enbridge said it had received the request and provided and reiterated its belief in Line 5’s safety and its role in Michigan’s energy delivery. The company did not say whether it would comply with the request.

“We are committed to making a safe pipeline even safer by investing $500 million in the construction of a tunnel under the Straits to house the pipeline — thereby further protecting the waters of the Great Lakes and everyone who uses them,” Enbridge said in a statement. 

Enbridge entered into agreements with Michigan last year to build the tunnel, but the agreements made under Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder were challenged by Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats who opined the agreements were unconstitutional.

Line 5’s span through the Straits of Mackinac has been a source of concern for environmentalists who fear a potential oil spill in the Great Lakes. 

Environmental group For Love of Water said the letter was a "welcome sign" that the state was close to completing its investigation of Line 5. The group filed formal comments with the state in November to aid in the review of Line 5.

“At the conclusion of this process, these serious and continuing violations of the easement by Enbridge should trigger the state to shut down the dangerous dual Line 5 oil pipelines in the Great Lakes before it's too late," said Kelly Thayer, deputy director for the group.