State leaders urge shutdown of Line 5 until repairs made

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) – A government panel is urging the temporary shutdown of twin oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac until the company that operates them can finish inspections and repair coating gaps.

The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board on Monday approved the non-binding resolution after some board members expressed opposition to a recent deal between Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc.

Other resolutions OK’d Monday call on the state to propose an amendment to close the pipelines if waves are higher than 3 feet – not 8 feet as is spelled out in the agreement.

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Enbridge gave an update on Line 5’s status to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, but many of those who attended say they left with more questions than they started with.

Enbridge officials answered several questions about Line 5’s condition, it’s protective coating, and the results of video inspections.

However, some board members are still concerned with the pipeline’s safety.

“Enbridge came to this same group in march and said the coating is fully intact, in fact they said the pipeline is in like new condition, since then we have found out that there are 128 possible places where the coating is missing and where bare metal is exposed to water,” says Great Lakes Regional Director of the National Wildlife Federation, Mike Shriberg.

Shriberg says that coating is designed to prevent corrosion, without it he’s worried the pipeline may not survive the winter.

He’s not alone board member, Jennifer McKay agrees.

“Without that protective measure, the pipeline is more susceptible to ruptures and leaks, and going into a winter season obviously the winter makes emergency response containment recover of an oil spill more challenging,” says Policy Director for the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Jennifer McKay.

Enbridge has apologized for the miscommunication.

The company’s spokesperson, Ryan Duffy says, several inspections have been done to make sure Line 5 remains in good condition.

In addition, he says Line 5 is critical to Michigan’s economy.

“In the winter months you can imagine people who use propane to heat their homes, cook their food, they rely on it to be delivered reliably, consistently, and affordably, and Enbridge is really the reason it is delivered reliably,” says Duffy.

Board members say they are looking into an independent investigation of the pipeline made up of universities and researchers in the area.

The group Oil & Water Don’t Mix gathered outside the meeting to call for a shut down of Line 5.

Public feedback sessions have been scheduled:

Tuesday, Dec. 12 in St. Ignace beginning at 6pm at the Little Bear Arena & Community Center on Marquette Street.

Wednesday, Dec. 13 in Traverse City beginning at 6pm at the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort Leelanau Banquet Rooms on Front Street.

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