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Federal report says human error led to anchor strike that dented Line 5

map of Line 5
Enbridge Energy

In a new report, the National Transportation Safety Board blames human error that led to equipment failures for an anchor strike in April 2018 that dented the Line 5 twin pipelines. Attorney General Dana Nessel says the report is evidence the pipelines need to be removed from the Great Lakes.

The NTSB report says the vessel was short staffed during the Easter weekend as mistakes were made that allowed an anchor to drag on the lake bed. It struck Line Five and the pipelines were dented.

The anchor strike also caused damage to electric cables and a mineral oil leak. 

Kelly Rossman-McKinney is the attorney general’s communications director. She says the incident is further proof Line 5 needs to be shut down.
“What that report does is reinforce what we already know, which is that it is that is incredibly dangerous to continue operating in the Straits of Mackinac,” says Rossman-McKinney. “We are really just an, I mean seriously, an anchor strike, a total unintended anchor strike, away from devastation in the Great Lakes.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she wants a deal on the future of Line 5 by June 10th.

In a statement, Enbridge said it's standing by plans to construct a tunnel that would house a replacement section of Line 5:

Enbridge Inc. (TSX: ENB) (NYSE: ENB) (Enbridge or the Company) today confirmed it is proceeding with preparations to advance its 2019 plan in support of constructing a tunnel to house the Straits of Mackinac crossing of the Company’s Line 5 pipeline. These preparations have continued to advance further since our last update and include detailed engineering, geotechnical analysis, undertaking pre-application consultation, and filing of permit applications. As previously announced, Enbridge believes the tunnel can be under construction in 2021 and in service as soon as early 2024, assuming no delays in the permitting process. Enbridge has further committed that operation of the existing Straits Line 5 crossing would cease immediately following the placement into service of the replacement pipeline in the tunnel.

Editor's note: Enbridge is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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