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Pipeline opponents pack meeting on Line 5 safety

a map shows the straits of mackinac with some satellite imagery
screenshot from Enbridge report to the state
The red lines show where Enbridge's Line 5 crosses Lake Michigan.

It was standing room only at a relatively obscure state board meeting today.

The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board heard a presentation from the oil and gas company that owns Line 5 – an oil and gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of Lake Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge.

“This pipeline is in as good a condition as it was the day it was installed. Our corrosion prevention system is doing its job," Kurt Baraniecki, director for Integrity Programs for Enbridge, told the board. "Our monitoring efforts are effective.”

But an independent report prepared by former Dow engineer says Enbridge’s Line 5 shows signs of cracks in the coating and other potential problems.

Edward Timm spoke during the public comment portion of the board meeting.

“I believe that this pipe has some compromised metal in it in certain sections,” he said. “I believe that information needs to be fed to the people that are trying to do a fitness for service determination for this board.”

An Enbridge spokesman, Ryan Duffy said after the meeting that based on what they have read of Timm’s report, there is no new information.

“All those things that he brought up, those are things that we look at constantly and we study and we do integrity tests,” he said. “And all our tests have shown that the line is in good shape.”

Following the meeting, advisory board member Jennifer McKay said she still has concerns about coating loss on the pipes.

“It sounded from the presentation that they gave that they need a lot more investigative work to be done to ultimately determine what is causing the loss of coating, how it’s impacting the line and how they’re going to move forward in light of this information,” she said.

Governor Rick Snyder created the pipeline safety board to implement recommendations laid out in a state report that focused on the safety of Line 5.

The board is expected to review two pipeline reports in June. Those reports will look at the risks of keeping Line 5 open and alternatives to the pipeline.

Enbridge is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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