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Enbridge: Pipeline coating missing long before state was informed

Oct 27, 2017

An underwater look at the supports along the stretch of Line 5 that runs through the Mackinac Straits.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy reported today that damage to anti-corrosion coating on Line 5 occurred in 2014, but the company never told the state. The reason? Enbridge engineers who found the damage never told higher-ups about it. They said the pipeline was safe, so there was no reason.

But state officials say this is one more instance of Enbridge not sharing information about the line that carries oil and gas beneath the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac.

“We expect the information they give us to be accurate, and so if they have issues within their company then they need to address that," said Matt Goddard with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says it doesn’t matter why the company got it wrong.

An Enbridge spokesman says the company is changing its procedures to require more information sharing. But Ryan Duffy with Enbridge says the engineers never shared the information with top engineers because the integrity of the line was not affected.

“We’ve seen that there’s not any corrosion, not any damage to the steel. That’s all fully intact, so that’s how we can say it’s not a safety issue," he said. "But we do still take it seriously, and we have now gone in and made those coating repairs.”  

State officials say they’re not satisfied and want a fuller explanation from Enbridge. The company is seeking a permit to install additional anchors to secure the line to the bottom of the lake.  

In full disclosure, Enbridge Energy is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.