Court documents filed by Enbridge in preparation for a judicial hearing reveal they still cannot prove the cause of damage that led to a judge temporarily shutting down the twin pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac last week.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 30 at 1:30 p.m.
According to the documents, Enbridge claims their investigation so far points to a cable striking one pipeline and raises the possibility that a boat anchor struck a support for the east pipeline in the Straits, although Enbridge admits they cannot reach a firm conclusion on the source of the damage.
In the court documents, Enbridge said the pipeline is safe and wants Ingham County Circuit Judge James Jamo to lift his order shutting down Line 5. They said it violates federal pipeline safety law.
“What Enbridge is basically telling the judge is trust us and even if you don’t trust us you don’t have the authority to stop us from continuing to pump 23 million gallons of oil a day through the Straits,” said Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign coordinator. “Coming just a week after being forced to pay $6.7 million in fines for violating pipeline safety, Enbridge’s arrogance is only exceeded by its gross misreading of the premier right and responsibility of Michigan’s state government to protect the Great Lakes.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel requested the hearing for a preliminary injunction to keep Line 5 shut down.
Officials said that while Enbridge is claiming its assessment of Line 5 damage comes from underwater inspections by remote vehicles and divers, neither the state nor the federal government agency responsible for pipeline safety has undertaken to independently confirm Enbridge’s claims with their own inspections.
According to officials, if an anchor were involved in the June Line 5 damage it would be at least the second time an anchor has struck Line 5. In April 2018, an anchor strike prompted new signage and rules aimed at preventing another anchor strike from damaging Line 5.
In court documents, Enbridge promises to implement additional measures, including placing a boat in the Straits to monitor navigation. But they admit Enbridge has no authority over navigation.
In addition to its court filings, Enbridge has mounted a public relations offensive aimed at creating economic fear surrounding a Line 5 shutdown and warning that Upper Peninsula residents would be without home heating from propane this winter.
According to officials, an independent study done by London Economics International in 2018 rejected those claims, and another study documented that a Line 5 rupture could cost the state, taxpayers, businesses, and property owners up to $6 billion in losses and damages.
Enbridge released the following statement regarding the Line 5 Pipeline:
"Enbridge only operates its pipelines when it is safe to do so. We are committed to protecting the environment, and safely delivering energy to those who rely on it daily. Inspections show the west segment of Line 5 is safe. While there is no indication that movement of an anchor support on the east segment affected the pipeline itself, we are conducting further inspections there to make sure the east segment remains safe before we restart operations. Enbridge has committed to sharing information regarding our investigation and assessment with the State of Michigan and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Our planned Great Lakes Tunnel Project, which places a new section of pipeline inside a tunnel, well below the Straits, will provide extra layers of safety and environmental protection and make what are currently safe pipelines even safer."