Need for Transparency Underscored by Revelation Enbridge Knew of Coating Damage Despite March Statements

Agency: Environmental Quality

Oct. 27, 2017

Nick Assendelft, MAE Public Information Officer,, 517-284-8300
Ed Golder, DNR Public Information Officer,, 517-284-6241
Tiffany Brown, MDEQ Public Information Officer,, 517-284-6716
Dale R. George, MSP/EMHSD Public Information Officer,, 517-284-3962

State decision on permit to install anchors on Line 5 will take new information into account

LANSING, MICH. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expressed concerns that Enbridge knew of damage in the protective coating on a portion of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge Energy Partners, which owns and operates the line, possessed information about the damage in 2014 and failed to disclose it to state agencies. The damage to the coating occurred when Enbridge was installing anchors meant to better secure the pipeline to the lake bottom.
The state is expecting to receive information today regarding the coating damage. The information, provided by Enbridge, is in response to an information request by DEQ. The information request was sent to Enbridge to supplement its application for a permit to install additional anchors along the pipeline. By request of Enbridge, DEQ extended the application processing deadline from Nov. 2, 2017 to March 2, 2018 in order to more thoroughly review the information expected today.

Recent pressure tests have confirmed the structural integrity of the pipeline. The coatings nevertheless remain a concern to state agencies because of the coating’s role in protecting the pipeline, and because some of the damage was caused by Enbridge’s actions during maintenance activities. In addition, Enbridge had as recently as March of this year represented to the state’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board that there were no known concerns about the Line 5 coating, despite having documentation of this damage in 2014.

"The DEQ is going to take this revelation very seriously and will conduct a thorough assessment of the information to consider during our continued review of the permit application,” said DEQ Director C. Heidi Grether.

“We are deeply disappointed that Enbridge did not tell the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board in March the whole story about Line 5 coating deficiencies. Enbridge owes the people of Michigan, the Advisory Board and the State an apology,” said Valerie Brader, executive director of MAE and co-chair of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board. “This issue is too important to the people of Michigan to not tell the truth in a timely manner, and right now any trust we had in Enbridge has been seriously eroded.”

“The recent finding and reporting by Enbridge clearly demonstrates the need for greater transparency and oversight where Line 5 is concerned,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We will be seeking to ensure there are mechanisms in place to increase communication and stewardship on the part of Enbridge in the future.”

“I am concerned by Enbridge’s lack of transparency when it comes to Line 5,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. “It is imperative to have a good working relationship with our public and private sector partners to ensure public safety. When one of our partners withholds vital information, it makes emergency and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery difficult.”

Line 5 is a 645-mile pipeline built in 1953 and runs from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Canada. It transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids. The state is awaiting completion of an independent alternatives analysis regarding the Straits pipeline. Negotiations are ongoing between the state and a proposed contractor for a separate independent risk analysis on Line 5.