2017-04-13 / Front Page

Line 5 Will Have Hydrostatic Test

By Erich T. Doerr

Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac will undergo hydrostatic testing that will fill the line with water, with work beginning in early May and concluding before the St. Ignace Car Show June 24. Enbridge Energy officials told Moran Township Board of Trustees of its plans Wednesday, April 5, at a township board meeting. The work will require periodic closures of Boulevard Drive during May and June.

Enbridge will be doing a lot of preparation work for the test during the weeks leading up to it, project Manager Matt Fournier told the board. The company is working with the Mackinac County Road Commission on road closure arrangements. The tests will involve filling Line 5 with water and pressurizing the line up to and beyond its normal maximum operating level for eight-hour periods to take measurements and make sure all of its equipment is functioning normally. Enbridge is aware of the upcoming St. Ignace Car Show at the end of June, and all the increased traffic in the area that results, and has a goal of completing all testing work and road closures before the show weekend. Work will begin on the project in early May.

Hydrostatic testing is a standard test conducted on every pipeline before it goes into service and a routine, but rare, test for installed pipelines when the need arises. This test is required by a settlement with the United States Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency in relation to the 2010 Enbridge Line 6B oil spill in Marshall. Enbridge Communications Strategist Ryan Duffy told The St. Ignace News the work this summer would be Enbridge’s first hydrostatic test on the Straits portion of Line 5. The pressure test process goes further than the company’s normal testing measures in making sure the line is sound.

Mr. Duffy said the test would be a good supplement to the normal inline inspections Enbridge carries out, such as running pipeline inspection gauge equipment (PIGs) through it. Aerial photographs and foot patrols are also used to monitor the company’s pipelines.

The preparation for the testing will include a lot of construction at the Enbridge north valve site on Boulevard Drive, requiring road closures to bring in equipment. The closures will probably extend from the Boulevard Drive intersection with Densmore Avenue west to the American Transmission Company complex, each end offering an area to turn traffic around.

The closure does not affect any populated portions of the road.

Flaggers will monitor the road closures. Closures could occur during standard business hours on weekdays, focusing on the period from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the road staying open on weekends in May and possibly early June during the preparation work. The road would be closed full time during the two to two-and-a-half weeks of actual safety testing in June, to provide a buffer distance around the testing area. Residents in Mackinaw City can also expect to see some minor work at the Enbridge substation related to the testing in May and June. The road commission will grade the road, if needed, during the work.

The preparations for the test will include the construction of a large, above-ground water tank on Enbridge property. All of the water that will be used during the test will be trucked in to fill the tank. It will be trucked away to a wastewater treatment plant for disposal after testing is complete. The test will require 300,000 gallons of water. Mr. Duffy said Enbridge will work with emergency response agencies during the test and will keep area landowners informed about its work.

Enbridge is planning to bus workers in and out of the site to cut down on traffic using Boulevard Drive. A large crew of about 60 workers will be doing the work. A tank-equipped pickup truck may also be brought for dust control use. The area will be kept secured, with people on site, 24 hours a day during testing. Once the tests are completed, periodic road closures could continue during the restoration work and equipment removals as Enbridge returns the property to normal operations.

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