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Permit application submitted by Enbridge for Great Lakes Tunnel

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World Pipelines,

Enbridge has now submitted a permit application requesting authorisation to begin construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel Project. Enbridge filed the application on 8 April 2020, with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Upon approval of the joint permit application, two industry-leading contractors are poised to begin construction.

Under the partnership of the Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors, Jay Dee Contractors, Inc. of Livonia, Michigan (US), and tunnel construction firm Obayashi Corporation, will lead the construction efforts. Enbridge also has engaged Arup, a leading engineering and consulting firm, to deliver the design.

Pending receipt of necessary permits and approvals, Enbridge anticipates beginning construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel in 2021 to house a replacement Line 5 segment in the Straits. It expects the replacement Line 5 segment to be operational in 2024.

“The Great Lakes Tunnel Project unequivocally is the most practical, long-term solution to delivering a secure energy supply to the region while enhancing environmental safeguards in the Straits,” said Amber Pastoor, Enbridge Tunnel Project Manager. “The existing Line 5 was designed to last and has served this region well for more than 60 years. With today’s technology, the Great Lakes Tunnel Project will help deliver an enhanced level of safe, reliable energy, along with measures to protect our waterways for generations.”

Highlights of the filing:

Though the tunnel design has yet to be finalised, Enbridge is envisioning constructing an internal tunnel diameter that will range between 18 ft and 21 ft at a depth of approximately 60 ft to more than 200 ft below the lakebed, which will maintain the highest environmental and construction safety standards while enabling time-sensitive completion.

Beginning work from the Lower Peninsula and travelling north under the Straits to the Upper Peninsula minimises impact while allowing safe construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel. Work on the south side is confined either to 25 acres currently owned by Enbridge or on land owned by other utilities with which Enbridge has secured easement agreements. Enbridge will maintain an approximately 115 ft buffer from the shoreline of Lake Michigan. There are no wetlands, protected species or significant cultural resources within this proposed workspace.

The tunnel boring will terminate on the north side of the Straits in the Upper Peninsula, using workspace within approximately 16 acres owned by Enbridge. To minimise the extent of impacts on natural resources, the workspace primarily will be in upland areas to avoid forested wetlands to the north. Enbridge will maintain at least a 50 ft buffer from the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

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