2017-07-06 / Front Page

Draft Line 5 Report Is Now Available

By Erich T. Doerr

The State of Michigan released the first draft of its alternative analysts report for the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline Thursday, June 29. It is available online at the Michigan Petroleum Pipelines Information website, mipetroleumpipelines.com.

A 30-day comment period begins Thursday, July 6, and comments can be submitted online through the Michigan Petroleum Pipelines Information website, an email that will be available from the site, or by sending a regular mail message to Michigan Agency for Energy, Attn: Line 5 Pipeline Study, P.O. Box 30221, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing, MI 48917.

Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. of Calgary, Alberta prepared the report for the state, beginning work in August 2016. Its report included an analysis of the existing pipeline, proposals for transport alternative to the present line, and options for abandoning the line. The report looked at encasing the full length of the underwater portion of the pipe in a tunnel or trenching it into the lake floor under the Straits of Mackinac. It found both routes would be viable. It also said Enbridge could continue to use the existing lines but threat and risk modeling would need to be done to create an accurate evaluation of the pipeline’s “safe and reliable” operating life.

The draft also suggested options for taking the oil elsewhere through the construction of a new pipeline, rerouting Line 5’s cargos into another non-Great Lakes pipeline, or using alternative transportation means such as trains that would allow the decommissioning of the Straits pipes. After looking at available pipeline infrastructure, both owned by Enbridge and other companies, it was determined rerouting Line 5’s cargos in another line wasn’t viable unless it was accompanied by new pipeline construction or the use of alternative transportation.

Moving the oil and gas by rail, truck, or boat wasn’t thought to be viable.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stressed in a release after the draft report came out that Michigan needs a comprehensive plan for Line 5 based on “science, available technology, and common sense” that would set a timeline for an eventual shut down of the pipeline, disagreeing with a portion of the report that said that the pipeline could be operated indefinitely if maintained. He said the Straits tunnel idea would be a viable option that could allow continuous visual inspection of the line.

He noted Michigan’s need for propane to supply the Upper Peninsula must still be meet and when the state takes any sort of closure action on Line 5 it will need to still encourage and protect the state’s energy production industry.

“The safety and security of our Great Lakes is etched in the DNA of every Michigan resident, and the final decision on Line 5 needs to include a discussion with those that rely on propane for heating their homes, and depend on the pipeline for employment,” Mr. Schuette said in a release. “One thing is certain: the next steps we take should be for the long term protection of the Great Lakes.”

Dynamic Risk representatives will present their analysis of the report to the public Thursday, July 6, in an information session downstate at Holt High School. Those who can’t make it will be able to watch a video stream of the event online. Three feedback sessions will take place later in the month featuring State and Dynamic Risk representatives listening to public comments. The first will be at Holt High School Monday, July 24, at 8 a.m. followed by a second in Traverse City at 6 p.m. the same day in the Hagerty Center at Northwestern Michigan College. The last will be in St. Ignace Thursday, July 25, at the Little Bear East Arena. Speakers will be allowed three minutes each to speak on a first-come, firstserve basis.

Enbridge said the company supported the State of Michigan’s studies with a desire they remained independent so the public would have confidence in them and trust the results. Enbridge Communications Strategist Ryan Duffy said Enbridge would be thoroughly reviewing and assessing the findings of the plan before it provided specific comments about it.

“Enbridge remains committed to protecting the Great Lakes and meeting the energy needs of Michigan through the safe operation of Line 5,” Mr. Duffy said in release. “We have never wavered from that commitment. That’s our focus, day in, day out.”

Enbridge Regional Director John Gauderman spoke to the media just before the release of the report saying that the company supported the “public process and the drafting” of the report. He said Enbridge was looking forward to speaking with the state about the need for Line 5, its commitment to its safe operation, and the safe transportation of energy resources through the Straits area and that it is willing to provide accurate information about its operations and efforts to protect the Great Lakes.

“The reliability of our pipeline systems is our top priority,” Mr. Gauderman said in a release. “Enbridge’s maintenance schedule on Line 5 exceeds federal requirements to meet our goal of protecting Michigan’s environment. After more than 60 years in service, Line 5 is in outstanding operating condition because the rigorous maintenance done through the decades. We intend to keep it that way.”

Mr. Gauderman said Enbridge is committed to the safe operation of Line 5 and is working to publicly demonstrate its reliability. The company recently carried out hydrotesting on the line that pressurized both sides of the Line 5 pipeline to the same levels far beyond its operation limits that the line was originally tested at 1953 before it entered service, he said the success of these tests was a clear demonstration of the line’s fitness to continue in service and its success in its efforts to maintain it. The company’s future plans for the Straits area portion of the line include installing 22 new anchor supports underwater to fortify it, inspecting its coating, and installing new valves in key locations throughout their system for increased control if the need arises to respond to an emergency.

“Line 5 delivers the energy Michigan wants and needs,” Mr. Gauderman said in a release Thursday. “Enbridge operations in Michigan provide a vital service to residents in Michigan and beyond and are an invaluable component of our local, regional and national energy infrastructure network.”

Mr. Gauderman said the propane running through Line 5 supplies more than half of Michigan with the state and regional refineries using the line to supply the crude oil they need to produce a wide array of products ranging from eyeglasses and fertilizer to toothpaste, coolers, sunglasses, vitamins, and antihistamines.

The second planned pipeline report related to risk analyst of Line was aborted Wednesday, June 21, when the State of Michigan terminated its contract with the firm Det Norske Veritas (DNV-GL) before the draft was delivered to the state’s project team. The decision to cancel the report came after the state found an employee who worked on the report for DNV-GL later worked on another project for Enbridge before the risk analysis work was completed, violating the job contract’s conflict of interest prohibitions.

The Line 5 pipeline was built in 1953. It runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario carrying 540,000 barrels of light crude oil and natural gas liquids over its 645- mile route every day. The report cited Line 5 as an integral part of Enbridge’s Lakehead system that transports 2.6-millon barrels of energy producing materials to the United States’ Midwest and East Coast regions plus eastern Canada. Line 5 is also the only component in Enbridge’s system with the capability to deliver 2,000 barrels a day of natural gas liquids to its Rapid River facility used for the production of Upper Peninsula-bound propane. Light crude oil from Michigan wells is also transported with the line to Detroit and Toledo refineries that are important suppliers of gasoline and other products to all of Michigan.

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