Judge orders Enbridge to temporarily cease operation on Line 5 in Straits of Mackinac

Judge orders Enbridge to temporarily cease operation on Line 5 in Straits of Mackinac
Posted at 1:44 PM, Jun 25, 2020

An Ingham County Circuit Court Judge has ordered Enbridge to temporarily cease all operations of Line 5 after significant damage was suffered to an anchor support on the east leg.

Judge James S. Jamo granted Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's motion for a temporary restraining order that would require Enbridge to cease operations.

Line 5 carries crude oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac. The motion also requires the company to disclose information related to the damage.

The motion was part of Nessel's ongoing lawsuit against the company in Ingham County Circuit Court.

“Enbridge has failed to provide the State with information about the cause of this significant development involving Line 5, and so I’m very grateful for the Court’s decision today,” Nessel said in a release. “While the fact that Enbridge reactivated one of the lines before consulting with the State is concerning, the fact that the company has failed to disclose the cause of this damage is equally alarming, considering the impact a breach in the pipeline could have to our state residents and economy. With the continued operation of this pipeline, the risk of severe and lasting environmental damage to Michigan’s most important natural resource continues to grow every day. However, this ruling, while significant, is only a short-term fix. If the lines are put back into operation, one mismanaged incident or accident would result in a historic catastrophe for our state. Work must continue toward complete removal of Line 5 from our waters.”

“Governor Whitmer applauds the court’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order to shut down Line 5 immediately, following severe damage to an anchor support. Enbridge’s decision to continue pumping crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac with so many unanswered questions was reckless and unacceptable," Whitmer Press Secretary Tiffany Brown said in a statement. "Enbridge owes a duty to the people of Michigan and must answer to the state for how it treats our Great Lakes. The governor will continue working to keep our water safe.”

Under the restraining order, the east line of the pipeline will remain shut down, and the west line – which is currently operating – must shut down as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours after getting the court's order. The shutdown will continue until the hearing on the motion on June 30.

"The risk of harm to the Great Lakes and various communities and business that rely on the Great Lakes would not only be substantial but also in some respects irreparable," Jamo said in the ruling.

Last Thursday, Enbridge reported the pipeline damage to state officials and shut down the pipelines to inspect the damage. On Saturday, they restarted production on the west leg of the pipeline.

They haven't said what caused the damage.

Enbridge released the below statement:

Today a Michigan Circuit Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order requiring Enbridge to shut down Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac within 24 hours until a hearing on the State's request for preliminary injunction can be held Tuesday, June 30, 2020 and a ruling made on the preliminary injunction.

Vern Yu, Executive Vice President and President of Liquids Pipelines said, “Enbridge is disappointed in the court’s ruling as we believe that Life 5 is safe; however, the west leg of Line 5 has been shut down.”

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has regulatory oversight of the pipeline’s operations and fitness for service. Enbridge will be providing the court with the information it has requested relating to PHMSA’s approach to assessing the current situation with Line 5, including restart planning for the West leg.

“Inspections have determined that the west segment of Line 5 crossing the Straits is safe for operations and which PHMSA did not object to restarting; we had shut down the east segment of the pipeline pending a review of a disturbance that was discovered on one of the screw anchors and an assessment of the East leg’s fitness for service.” Yu said. Enbridge is committed to protecting the environment and the waters of the Great Lakes, while keeping energy flowing safely and reliability to the people who need it.

An extended shutdown of Line 5 would threaten fuel supplies in Michigan and Ohio resulting in critical gasoline supply shortages and gasoline price increases for consumers in Michigan and the surrounding region.

Read the ruling below.
Judge orders Enbridge to temporarily cease operation on Line 5 in Straits of Mackinac by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd