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Enbridge workers move into new monitoring center to prevent anchor strikes on Line 5

work being done under Mackinac bridge
Enbridge Energy doing work on its pipeline, underneath the Mackinac Bridge

Enbridge has moved its 24/7 monitoring of Line 5 to a new center in St. Ignace, on the north side of the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said the monitoring will keep ships' anchors from hitting the oil pipeline in the Straits.

"It's an example of Enbridge implementing extraordinary measures to make sure the straits are safe and protected, particularly as the Great Lakes Tunnel project moves forward," said Duffy. "We've installed layer on layer on layer of safety measures in the Straits. Those include an electronic signal that goes out to every vessel passing through the straits, and lets them know they're in a no-anchor zone. Each and every vessel that comes through, we're contacting that captain."

Duffy said in the long run, moving the pipeline to a tunnel underneath the Straits is the safest option.

But Beth Wallace at the National Wildlife Federation called the monitoring a "bandaid."

"We have a pipeline that should never have been placed here to begin with, approaching its 70th year," said Wallace. "This monitoring doesn't prevent an anchor strike during bad weather, which is when it's most likely to occur. All of this just seems like ways for Enbridge to prolong the life of this pipeline."

Wallace said rather than continuing to pursue its tunnel project, Enbridge should be transitioning to shut down the part of the Line 5 that is in the Straits.

Meanwhile, the state of Michigan is suing Enbridge in federal court, hoping a judge will order the company to shut down the Straits portion of the pipeline.

Enbridge, on the other hand, is suing the state of Michigan, also in federal court, to try to prevent it from shutting down the pipeline.

Enbridge Energy is among Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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