Enbridge reaches deal with Michigan on underwater Great Lakes pipeline

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CALGARY — Enbridge Inc. says it has reached a deal with the State of Michigan on the aging Line 5 pipelines that run along the bottom of a channel between Lakes Huron and Michigan.

The twin pipelines were laid in 1953 and have raised increasing concerns about the potential impacts on the Great Lakes if the 540,000-barrel-a-day pipeline were to leak.

The Calgary-based energy company (TSX:ENB) says the deal with the state includes completing an evaluation by June 2018 on three options to eventually replace the 7 kilometre stretch of underwater pipeline, as well as immediate safety measures to reduce the risk of a leak.

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The replacement options include placing a new pipeline in a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, installing a new pipeline below the lakebed using advanced drilling techniques, and digging a trench on the bottom of the Great Lakes and then installing the pipeline within a secondary enclosure in the trench.  

Opponents of the pipeline have called for its complete shutdown, with concerns on the condition of the pipeline increasing after Enbridge’s admissions in recent months that gaps had formed in its protective coating.

The company says the pipeline remains in good shape and is fit for service, and that it already operates it at less than 25 per cent of maximum pressure capacity for enhanced safety.

The Canadian Press

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