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Cameras, Vessels, Warning System: Enbridge increases security of Line 5 pipeline

Cameras, Vessels, Warning System: Enbridge increases security of Line 5 pipeline
October 17, 2019 Natasha Blakely
Photo by Mack Male via flickr.com cc 2.0

The security of the section of the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac has been a major concern for many and a source of controversy.

Enbridge Inc. President and CEO Al Monaco announced three security measures the company will be implementing to reduce any risk of damage.

Monaco spoke at the Gem Theatre in downtown Detroit at a Canada – US Business Association event on Thursday.

Enbridge entered an agreement in late 2018 with former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration regarding a project to replace the current pipeline with a pipe in an underground tunnel. But Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has taken a firm stance against the project, with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel pursuing litigation to get the agreement voided.

“We all share the same objective of protecting the straits,” Monaco said. “Since January, we’ve put forward several ideas to help further address concerns… Unfortunately, the administration has not shown an interest in advancing these ideas and instead took legal action. We, on the other hand, are committed to getting this tunnel built.”

Whitmer and Nessel’s focus has been on decommissioning Line 5.

After video of the pipeline taking damage from an anchor in April 2018 was released earlier this year, concern about the security of the pipeline was renewed.

Enbridge is introducing a number of additional security measures “to reduce risk further until and while the tunnel’s being built,” Monaco said.

Enbridge will install cameras to monitor ship traffic 24/7, implement a monitoring system that will identify and notify approaching ships of the no-anchor zone, and contract two support vessels to monitor ships navigating through the straits.

The two vessels have been on the water since last week, according to Brad Shamla, Enbridge’s vice president of U.S. operations. Enbridge’s primary contractor for the vessels is Marine Pollution Control.

The cameras will be installed in phases, with the preliminary cameras ready in about four weeks and the others following soon after, Shamla said.

The monitoring system, which comes from Vesper Marine, is in place. Enbridge is waiting for permission from the U.S. Coast Guard and then the Federal Communications Commission to communicate with ships, according to Shamla.

“What this is about is providing additional comfort to the community,” Monaco said.

In the meantime, Enbridge is continuing to move forward with the tunnel project as much as it can. This year it contracted the Highland Eagle to gather rock samples from the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac in preparation for building the tunnel.

“I think our primary goal right now is to do what we need to do this year to keep everything on schedule,” Monaco said. “We’ll see where the lawsuits fall from there.”

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