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Enbridge discovers four bare metal spots on its Line 5 pipeline

Enbridge Energy

Enbridge said Tuesday it has found four places where protective coating has worn away on its Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

According to Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy, crews found the bare metal spots last week while preparing to install steel screw anchors. The spots are on the east segment of the dual pipeline.

"We immediately inspected the line with remotely operated vehicles and with divers and determined there are no integrity issues and Line 5 remains safe," Duffy said.

Duffy said the bare metal spots range in size from roughly one to five square inches.

"This case really shows that our ongoing maintenance and inspections work like they're supposed to," said Duffy. "Because in this case we identified the coating issue and now we can quickly move into making these repairs as quickly as we can."

Duffy said the repairs are expected to take 5-10 days and will be made according to the previously state-approved coating repair work plan. He said Enbridge has notified the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy of the four recently discovered bare metal spots.

Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation, said the discovery of these bare metal spots is a wake up call about the dangers he says Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes, and he called the oil pipeline a "ticking time bomb."

"Enbridge said the coating was intact and everything was good just last year," said Shriberg. "So that shows that the inspections they're doing are failing, and this has happened multiple times before."

"This pipeline was designed for 50 years. It's been there for 67 years now," said Shriberg. "Every time Enbridge looks, they find more problems with this line. Yet it's been allowed to continue to operate, and I think that's very problematic."

Shriberg called on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to act now to revoke the easement under which Enbridge operates Line 5 on the bottomlands of the Great Lakes.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed suit last June in Ingham County Circuit Court to close down Line 5. A judge heard arguments in the case last week.

Enbridge is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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