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Enbridge accused of violating 1953 pipeline agreement

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World Pipelines,

Enbridge has been accused of violating multiple terms of the 1953 agreement with the state of Michigan that originally allowed the placement of oil pipelines on the lake bottom in the Straits of Mackinac.

A group of 22 environmental and tribal groups have written a letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and interim state Department of Environmental Quality Director Keith Creagh, demanding that oil flow is halted through Line 5.

The groups pointed to recently released data on Enbridge's website from a 2013 inspection of Line 5, showing corrosion in nine locations on the eastern segment of the underwater Straits pipelines, as well as two dents and 35 "circumferential" cracks at the locations where the pipeline segments are welded together: one 7 in. long area of corrosion has resulted in a 26% loss of wall thickness.

That, the environmental groups argue, is in itself a violation of the 1953 easement pact between the state of Michigan and Enbridge's predecessor, Lakehead Pipe Line Inc., that allowed the pipes on the lake bottom.

Engineering documents through the Michigan Public Service Commission incorporated into the easement agreement call for the pipes to be at least 0.812 in. thick.

Line 5 comprises twin pipelines that carry nearly 23 million gallons of light crude oil and natural gas liquids, such as propane, per day through the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge, in response to the letter, called the campaign allegations "fear mongering."

"They are taking good information out of context," said Enbridge spokesperson Jason Manshum.

"There's no corrosion along the straits crossing."

The allegations follow a Republican state senate bill introduced a week or so ago that would require all existing pipelines under Michigan's Great Lakes waters undergo a risk review.

Enbridge spokesperson Jason Manshum said the defects discovered in the 2013 inspection are not part of the underwater portion of the pipeline, are not on state land, and "are well within federal regulations and our own standards for repair."

The mill anomalies, he said, are "like a birthmark."

"No piece of pipe — even brand new — is 100% perfect," he said. "Since 1953, we have watched and recorded how these anomalies have progressed over time. They haven't changed. It's not metal loss."

Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner

Sources: Detroit Free PressMLive

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