Tag: Line 5 pipeline

Enbridge’s Neglect of 64-Year-Old “Line 5” Pipelines in Mackinac Straits Requires State to Apply Law, Stop Oil, Reject Permit

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director                                                  Cell: 570-872-4956
FLOW (For Love of Water)                                                          Email: liz@flowforwater.org

Jim Olson, Founder & President                                                   Cell: 231-499-8831
FLOW (For Love of Water)                                                          Email: olson@envlaw.com


ST. IGNACE – The state of Michigan must immediately apply the law, stop Line 5’s oil flow, and reject a Canadian company’s application to extract more life out of its decaying steel pipelines built in 1953, according to FLOW, a Traverse City-based Great Lakes water law and policy center in public comments made today. The comments came at a public hearing in St. Ignace on Enbridge’s bid for state approval to shore up parts of Line 5 that are bent or deformed due to the company’s neglect and support other areas potentially prone to erosion.

“Enbridge characterizes the application as seeking authorization for routine maintenance,” said Liz Kirkwood, FLOW’s Executive Director and environmental attorney. “The reality is that Enbridge is scurrying to rectify its dangerous neglect of maintenance over decades, including multiple violations of a legal agreement to properly anchor its dual pipelines against the swift currents in the Straits.” 

A recent report by Dr. Ed Timm, a FLOW adviser and former Dow Chemical engineer, shows Line 5 is bent and deformed where Enbridge wants to anchor it. The report presents new evidence of structural damage to the western pipe where Enbridge seeks to install five of the 22 anchors into Lake Michigan’s public bottomlands, stemming from a company pattern of violating a 1953 easement granted by the state allowing Enbridge to occupy the Mackinac Straits.

The state’s easement agreement allowing Line 5 to occupy the Mackinac Straits limits unsupported spans to no more than 75 feet, but a 2003 survey identified 16 unsupported spans greater than 140 feet; the longest at 224 feet on the east leg and 286 feet on the west leg. Other Enbridge inspection report revealed nearly 250 instances between 2005 and 2016 of unsupported spans on the pipelines exceeded a 75-foot legal limit in violation of Michigan’s easement agreement with Enbridge. This track record does not provide confidence that the company will fulfill its obligations in the future.

By attempting to cloak the results of its neglect and avoiding an assessment of Line 5’s impacts and alternatives, Enbridge is perpetuating the imminent threat to the Great Lakes and the protected public uses that include fishing, commerce, navigation, recreation, and drinking, according to a legal analysis by FLOW.

In fact, the company’s poor performance as well as the massive work proposed provides a compelling legal basis for the state to consider feasible and prudent alternatives to continued operation of the dual Line 5 pipelines.

“The state of Michigan must consider under rule of law whether there are viable options to the piecemeal patch-up of these aging steel oil pipelines threatening the Great Lakes,” said Jim Olson, FLOW’s founder and president and a renowned water rights attorney. “Enbridge has expanded Line 5 and the new Line 78 from Indiana across lower Michigan to Sarnia under the rubric of ‘maintenance.’ Our cities, villages, and citizens have ended up with Enbridge’s version of the Keystone XL right here in the Great Lakes, and it happened without the public notice, hearings, and independent impact and alternative analyses required by law.”

Line 5 transports nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids each day through the Mackinac Straits, 80 percent more volume than its past design capacity after several of its so-called “maintenance” upgrades.

Of particular concern is Enbridge’s continued failure to predict and prevent the cumulative impacts on Line 5 of lakebed erosion caused by Straits currents that frequently reverse and can exceed 10 times the flow over Niagara Falls.

Contrary to assertions by Enbridge, the state taking action to stop Line 5’s oil flow in the Mackinac Straits to prevent a catastrophic oil spill would not disrupt Michigan’s or the Midwest’s crude oil and propane supply, according to a set of expert reports FLOW released in December 2015. Available capacity and flexibility to meet energy demand in the Great Lakes region already exists in the North American pipeline system run not only by Enbridge, but also by competitors supplying the same refineries in Detroit, Toledo, and Sarnia, Ontario.

“The fact is, Line 5 is not essential,” said Rick Kane, a Michigan-based hazardous materials risk management specialist advising FLOW. “The regional pipeline system can supply crude oil to Michigan and surrounding refineries while eliminating the risk that Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes,” Kane said. “Feasible and prudent alternatives exist to support domestic needs, as well as exports.  However, pipeline company owners will not move to implement any alternatives as long as Line 5 operates and the public continues to carry the risk.”


Enbridge’s Neglect of 64-Year-Old “Line 5” Pipelines Risks Mackinac Straits, Requires State to Stop Oil and Hold Hearings


 


 


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO MEDIA: June 29, 2017

Contacts:

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director                                                  Cell: 570-872-4956
FLOW (For Love of Water)                                                          Email: liz@flowforwater.org

Jim Olson, Founder & President                                                   Cell: 231-499-8831
FLOW (For Love of Water)                                                          Email: olson@envlaw.com 

 

TRAVERSE CITY –

After the revelation earlier this month that Enbridge for years routinely violated a legal agreement to properly anchor its dual pipelines against the swift currents in the Mackinac Straits, the state of Michigan now must apply the law, stop Line 5’s oil flow, and hold public hearings as it considers the Canadian company’s application to squeeze more life out of its decaying steel infrastructure built in 1953, according to FLOW, a Traverse City-based Great Lakes water law and policy center, in formal comments released today.

While the state’s 1953 easement agreement granting Enbridge conditional occupancy of state bottomlands in the Mackinac Straits allows Enbridge up to 90 days to cure any violations, a 2016 report commissioned by Enbridge shows that the company for years knowingly ignored the erosion problem, which  appears to be unfixable and worsening with time.

“Enbridge’s willful neglect to properly support Line 5 in the Mackinac Straits is a game changer,” said Liz Kirkwood, FLOW’s Executive Director and environmental attorney. “This neglect is a flagrant violation of the company’s privilege to use the bottomlands and waters of the Great Lakes.”

“Leaving the pipeline exposed without support in the currents and forces of the Straits causes metal fatigue and heightens the risk of a spill. There needs to be an investigation of whether a pipeline should be there at all, before considering structural changes to a pipeline that has been compromised by the company’s own actions,” Kirkwood said.

Enbridge’s June 9 “maintenance” application to install up to 22 more pipeline anchors into Lake Michigan’s public bottomlands fails to address a company pattern of violating the easement and avoiding an assessment of Line 5’s impacts and alternatives, while perpetuating the imminent threat to the Great Lakes and the protected public uses that include fishing, commerce, navigation, recreation, and drinking, according to a legal analysis by FLOW.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is receiving public comment through today on Enbridge’s application, which also is being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This application is not about anchor supports. It’s about whether Enbridge can expand Line 5 and the new Line 78 from Indiana across lower Michigan to Sarnia,” said Jim Olson, FLOW’s founder and president and a renowned water rights attorney.  “Our cities, villages, and citizens have ended up with Enbridge’s version of the Keystone XL right here in the Great Lakes, and it happened without the public notice, hearings, and independent impact and alternative analyses required by law.”

The application, like many others filed by Enbridge in the last few years, disguises the company’s piecemeal actions that continue to significantly expand oil transport through and around the Great Lakes. Line 5 transports nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids each day through the Mackinac Straits, 80 percent more volume than its past design capacity after several of its so-called “maintenance” upgrades.

The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board is conducting a parallel review of Line 5 in the Straits, with a draft report on alternatives released today and a risk report that has been stymied by a conflict of interest, but that process is neither under the rule of law nor complies with the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (GLSLA) or other state and federal law.

“The advisory board’s review is not legally binding and does not replace the DEQ’s independent obligation to determine whether Line 5 should continue.” Kirkwood said.

Of particular concern is Enbridge’s continued failure to predict and prevent the cumulative impacts on Line 5 of lakebed erosion caused by Straits currents that frequently reverse and can exceed 10 times the flow over Niagara Falls.

“Enbridge’s piecemeal approach to managing washouts and installing adequate support under the Straits crossing of Line 5 has resulted in the line frequently being out of compliance with easement support requirements since the 1970’s,” said Ed Timm, PhD, an engineer advising FLOW. “Washouts are inherently unpredictable and it is likely that damage to the pipe has already occurred because of unsupported spans that were not detected and repaired by Enbridge’s two-year inspection and repair schedule.”

Contrary to assertions by Enbridge, the state taking action to stop Line 5’s oil flow in the Mackinac Straits to prevent a catastrophic oil spill would not disrupt Michigan's or the Midwest's crude oil and propane supply, according to a set of expert reports FLOW released in December 2015. Available capacity and flexibility to meet energy demand in the Great Lakes region already exists in the North American pipeline system run not only by Enbridge, but also by competitors supplying the same refineries in Detroit, Toledo, and Sarnia, Ontario.

“The fact is, Line 5 is not essential,” said Rick Kane, a Michigan-based hazardous materials risk management specialist advising FLOW. “The regional pipeline system can supply crude oil to Michigan and surrounding refineries while eliminating the risk that Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes,” Kane said. “Feasible and prudent alternatives exist to support domestic needs, as well as exports.  However, pipeline company owners will not move to implement any alternatives as long as Line 5 operates and the public continues to carry the risk.”

For more information, visit FLOW’s website at www.FLOWforWater.org/Line-5/ and these links:

  • FLOW’s Public Comments on the Joint Application of Enbridge Energy to Occupy Great Lakes Bottomlands for Anchoring Supports to Transport Crude Oil in Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac and Lake Michigan [2RD-DFDK-Y35G], submitted June 29, 2017.
  • FLOW’s Public Comments on the Joint Application of Enbridge Energy to Occupy Great Lakes Bottomlands for Anchoring Supports to Transport Crude Oil in Line 5 Pipelines in The Straits of Mackinac and Lake Michigan [No. 2hb-Vgko-35je], submitted August 25, 2016.
  • Technical Note Regarding Enbridge Line 5 Non-Compliance with 1953 Easement Requirements, A Mechanistic Analysis of Straits Pipeline Washout Phenomena, by Edward E. Timm, PhD, PE, August 20, 2016.
  • Appendices of August 2016: A & B

 

Enbridge’s June 9, 2017, application and public notice can be viewed at:

  • MDEQ website at https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/. The public can view the application or submit comments by clicking on the Public Notice Search and entering “Enbridge” in the Applicant Name section or “2RD-DFDK-Y35G” in the Application Number section.

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PDF of Media Release:

Read FLOW's Comments here:

Action Alert: Enbridge Trying to Squeeze More Life Out of “Line 5” in the Mackinac Straits

Take Action Now!

Urgent Threat: Enbridge is courting an oil spill disaster again in Michigan, and this time the Great Lakes are at risk. The public has until June 29, 2017, to oppose the Canadian energy transport giant’s request for state permission to squeeze more life out of a cracked, dented, and deformed pair of pipelines that push 23 million gallons of oil a day across the bottom of the Mackinac Straits, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. The request to continue the piecemeal patch up of the 64-year-old “Line 5” pipelines threatens the drinking water source for more than 40 million people, the economic engine for the Great Lakes region, and a way of life for millions of North Americans.

Terrible Track Record: Recall that Enbridge in 2010 caused the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history when its southern Michigan pipeline ruptured and dumped more than one million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed. That failure sickened 150 people, and permanently drove 150 families from their homes, taking four years and over $1.2 billion to clean up to the extent possible. Enbridge’s Line 5 has a similar dark history, with at least 29 spills totaling more than one million gallons of oil spread along its path in Michigan and Wisconsin since 1953.

Damage Done: Now Enbridge has applied to the State of Michigan for a permit to install more underwater anchor supports on its antiquated Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits, which the University of Michigan calls the “worst possible place” for a Great Lakes oil spill. The 22 anchor supports are another belated attempt to keep Line 5 from shifting, bending, and grinding on the bottom in the powerful underwater currents at the Straits, but the damage is already done. These supports are merely the latest in a series of stopgap measures that ignore decades of metal fatigue and stress on the pipeline, which is now well past its 50-year life expectancy and should be permanently shut down as soon as possible.

Follow the Facts

Public records reveal that…

  • From the 1970s through the 1990s, Enbridge installed grout bags to prop up Line 5, attempting to meet the state’s requirement under the 1953 easement to support the steel pipeline at least every 75 feet along the publicly owned bottom of the Great Lakes.
  • In 2001, Enbridge declared an emergency on Line 5 in the Straits to stabilize stretches or spans of the pipeline that had become dangerously unsupported for over 130 feet because of “washouts” of the lake bottom and grout bags caused by swift currents that, records show, were underestimated when the pipeline was designed. 
  • Recently it was revealed that Enbridge was out of compliance likely for decades with the legally required safety margin, allowing 16 spans of Line 5 to go unsupported for lengths greater than 140 feet, with the longest being 224 feet on the east pipeline and 286 feet on the west pipeline – nearly four times the legal limit.
  • With no reliable model to predict lakebed washouts due to the highly dynamic nature of currents in the Mackinac Straits, Enbridge cannot meet its legal duty under the state easement to prudently operate this pipeline.
  • Enbridge incorrectly categorizes its proposed patchwork response to Line 5’s major structural defects as “routine maintenance” when the company has, in fact, been systematically expanding the capacity of Line 5 and Line 6b in southern Michigan to carry Canadian oil heading mostly back to Canadian refineries and to overseas markets.

This strategy has previously enabled the company to avoid State of Michigan review of the safety and necessity of the pipeline itself, and dodge the legally required consideration of alternative routes and methods that do not threaten the Great Lakes.

Take Action Now

The public has until June 29, 2017, to submit comments to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality opposing Enbridge’s bid to keep Line 5 on life support and seeking to prevent a Great Lakes oil spill disaster.

  • Submit comments at http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/anchor_structure_public_comment
  • Draw upon information in this Action Alert, and from www.OilandWaterDontMix.org, to offer objections that are specific and factual.
  • Be sure to demand a public hearing and call for the Michigan DEQ’s full review of the environmental impact of the Enbridge request and feasible and prudent alternatives to Line 5, as required by law.
  • Written comments will be made part of the record and should reference application number 2RD-DFDK-Y35G.

 

Thank you! 

Jim Olson’s statement to Pipeline Safety Advisory Board

Public Meeting of the Michigan Pipeline Advisory Board

Petoskey, Michigan, June 12, 2017

Statement of James Olson

President and Legal Advisor, FLOW for Love Water

It’s time for our state government to stop treating our 1963 Constitution, statutes and common law as nice but meaningless environmental policy statements and start treating them as the duty the people through the Constitution and our courts have mandated.

FLOW has submitted a number of reports to the State on crude oil transport through Michigan, particularly the antiquated and dangerous twin pipelines operated by Enbridge Energy in the Straits of Mackinac. When FLOW appeared before the Pipeline Task Force created by Governor Snyder, it and other organizations urged the State to bring Enbridge Line 5 under the “rule of law.” Enbridge Line 5 raises serious concerns related to the violation of the constitution and laws of Michigan that mandate the protection of air, water, natural resources of the state, and the public trust in those resources.

Michigan’s constitution and laws, and the binding decisions of our appellate courts, impose a duty on our state agencies to protect the paramount interests of citizens and communities in the protection of air, water, natural resources, public trust and public health. From the 1970s through the 1980s, Michigan developed one of the strongest, most highly respected legal frameworks for active citizen participation and strong regulatory protections of air, water, environment and public health in the United States. A centerpiece of these laws and court decisions is the duty to review of projects that required government approval through public participation and comprehensive assessment and determination of the potential effects on water, environment and health and alternatives that where avoided or minimized those effects consistent with the state’s paramount concern for its environment and public health.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, this protective, participatory framework has fallen into shambles. The State has ignored or breached this mandatory duty to consider and determine effects, alternatives, and protect our air, water, and health from pollution or impairment. Governmental review has been narrow, shallow, and with little or minimal public notice or participation.

Last fall, it took a seasoned journalist to uncover a major permit about to be issued to a bottled water company to withdraw massive quantities of water from a headwater creek system in mid-Michigan, with less than a week remaining for public comments or participation. The law required public notice and at least 45 days for public comment. This attitude of expediency over prudence and protection has reached a crisis level in state governance. This is not the fault of dedicated, competent employees and staffs of the Departments of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources. The blame falls on legislators and political leaders who put expediency, politics, and slashed budgets over the rigorous review and protection of water, environment, and public health.

Case in point: Our state agencies involved in the approval of the siting, improving, and expanded volumes of the flow of crude oil through Enbridge Line 5 and Line 6b (which runs from the southwestern part of the state to Port Huron before crossing into Canada) have totally failed to comply with this mandatory duty to consider and determine likely effects and alternatives. Approvals by the MPSC and MDEQ regarding Enbridge’s Lines 5 and 6b have not complied with this mandatory duty.

The MPSC and MDEQ have nearly collapsed their consideration and determinations of effects and impacts and alternative routes or capacity by allowing Enbridge to divide its expansion project into many narrow segments, presumably calculated to limit the scope of consideration of impacts and alternatives to each segment. In effect, this was like looking at the effect of clipping each toe-nail rather than the effects and alternatives of the whole elephant— a near doubling of crude oil pipeline capacity in Michigan. While others debated the impacts and alternatives to the Keystone XL down through the western U.S., Enbridge launched a massive expansion through the Great Lakes and Michigan—in Michigan, we ended up with the Enbridge “Great Lakes XL.”

Inexplicably, this was done without any public notice, comment, and participation regarding this true project purpose in Michigan. Even though the MPSC and DEQ have independent authority and legal responsibility to consider the effects and alternatives of the location and siting of this massive expansion and substantial upgrade of the pipeline system in Michigan, Enbridge has not been required to comply with the legal requirements for a comprehensive impact statement and showing by Enbridge that there are no likely or potential ill effects or there exist no alternatives to this massive expansion and upgrade of the company’s pipelines through Michigan.

This is unconscionable, unlawful, and a flagrant violation of the duties imposed on the State by our state constitution and laws. In the past few years, Enbridge has implemented its plan to greatly expand crude oil pipeline transport to more than 800,000 bpd from Alberta through its Great Lakes-Michigan Lakehead System. Applications to the MPSC and MDEQ, along with news releases and reports, show a multi-billion dollar investment to nearly double the capacity of its entire Lakehead system. MPSC documents show that the original capacity of 120,000 bpd in Line 5 could be increased to 300,000 bpd by the addition of 4 pump stations. In the past few years, Enbridge has invested tens of millions to increase the capacity of Line 5 to 490,000 bpd, and most recently to 540,000 bpd by a major new arrangement for 12 pump stations and the addition of more than anti-friction injection facilities to increase capacity to meet the 600 psi limit for the line in the 1953 Easement. Nothing in the 1953 easement giving Enbridge permission to use the bottomlands of Lake Michigan where Line 5 crosses the Straits suggested, even remotely, a four-fold increase.

After the original 30-inch diameter Line 6B that was constructed across Lower Michigan in 1969 ruptured in 2010, Enbridge applied to the MPSC for approval of a new 36-inch replacement Line 6b from Indiana to Sarnia (ironically, public records show that Line 5 was approved in 1953 to save Enbridge money rather than constructing a line across Lower Michigan). Enbridge applied for short segments of the new replacement line or the addition of pump stations. Like its applications for almost doubling the capacity of Line 5, Enbridge described its project purpose as line “maintenance” and “integrity.” By the time MPSC approved each small segment, Enbridge had a new replacement line that increased capacity from 400,000 bpd of old Line 6b to 800,000 bpd for the new 6b (now called Line 78).

For example, in 2012, MPSC approved Enbridge’s application to “replace a 50-mile segment” of existing Line 6b between Ingham and Oakland counties. It did not mention this was to double crude oil from Canadian “tar sands” through Lower Michigan. At about the same time, MPSC approved four new pumping stations to increase capacity to 800,000 bpd in this new 36-inch line. (A map showing eight segments, and several pump stations, is attached to this statement for your convenience) During this same time, the MPSC approved Enbridge applications for several new pumps stations and many anti-friction injection stations to increase the flow or volume rate of crude oil in Line 5. Once again, Enbridge represented these modifications as “maintenance” or “repairs.” Enbridge has done the same in applying to the MDEQ for anchor supports for Line 5 along the 4.5 mile stretch of the twin-pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. Even in Enbridge’s recent May10, 2017 application for anchor supports in the Straits, the company beguilingly states that it “plans to conduct maintenance… by installing anchor support structures.”

To date, the MPSC and MDEQ have not considered or determined the full environmental impacts and the alternative routes, capacity, or modifications for doubling crude oil transport from 700,000 bpd to 1,340,000 bpd in the Straits and in Michigan. Citizens, communities, businesses, property owners and our air, water, and natural resources have been blatantly ignored and deprived of their right to notice, participation and involvement in a matter that strikes at the core of quality of life and as the slogan says, “pure Michigan.”

It is time to address this crisis in State governance. It is time to correct this violation of by the State and Enbridge of the constitutional and legal duty to protect citizens’ public health and our air, water, natural resources and public trust (in those resources). It is time to correct the failure of our agencies and Enbridge to correctly disclose and comprehensively consider potential effects and the existence of alternatives through proper public notice and comment, participation, and transparent comprehensive consideration and determinations under the rule of law.

You as members of the Pipeline Advisory Board are urged to exercise your authority granted by Governor Snyder’s Executive Order 2015-12, and recommend that the MDEQ, MPSC, and Attorney General take all necessary and prudent steps to require Enbridge prove before the MPSC and MDEQ that (1) there is no likely risk of catastrophic harm to the Straits, our waters, fish, drinking water, riparian and public trust uses, and ecosystem from the continued transport of crude oil in the Straits, and (2) there exist no alternative routes, capacity, or modifications to other pipelines to accomplish the overall purpose of the Enbridge’s Lakehead System.