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Line 5 shutdown due to high winds and waves

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World Pipelines,

State officials say the flow of crude oil through twin underwater pipelines has been halted temporarily because of high winds and waves in the channel where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.

The Michigan Agency for Energy says the temporary shutdown of Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 is in keeping with a November agreement between the state and the Canadian oil transport company.

Under the deal, operation of the line will stop when bad weather causes wave heights of 8 ft (2.4 m) or higher for longer than an hour.

Waves exceeded 9 ft (2.7 m) on Tuesday.

The state agency says Enbridge shut down the pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac at 11:37 a.m. EST and will resume the oil flow when conditions improve.

Line 5 carries oil from Superior, Wisconsin, to refineries at Sarnia, Ontario.

This is the first activation of components in a new agreement between the state and Enbridge designed to increase safety and transparency related to the twin, 64 year old pipelines, which ship more than 23 million gal./d of crude oil and natural gas liquids through the Straits.  Valerie Brader, Executive Director for the Michigan Agency for Energy, in a statement praised the quick action to adhere to the agreement. "The purpose of the State’s agreement with Enbridge was to find practical solutions to concerns we had about the operation of Line 5 and the safety of the Great Lakes,” she said. “Enbridge’s action today shows the steps outlined in the plan will have immediate and long-term positive outcomes.”

Critics of Line 5's continued operation in the Straits contend that a pipeline rupture and oil spill there would devastate the Great Lakes ecology, island and shoreline communities, and the state economy.


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