Michigan cuts ties to contractor on oil spill analysis

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A company hired to analyze the worst-case scenario of an oil pipeline failure in the Straits of Mackinac has been fired because of a conflict of interest with Enbridge Energy, the state of Michigan announced Wednesday.

An employee on the project subsequently worked on another project for Enbridge, which owns Line 5 in northern Michigan. Det Norske Veritas, also known as DNV GL, is the contractor.

“Our trust was violated and we now find ourselves without a key piece needed to fully evaluate the financial risks associated with the pipeline that runs through our Great Lakes. This is unacceptable,” Attorney General Bill Schuette said.

An email seeking comment was sent to DNV GL, which develops standards and provides technical expertise in the maritime and energy industries.

Line 5 carries nearly 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily. It runs across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before entering the Straits of Mackinac, where it divides into two lines, then continues southward to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario.

Enbridge Energy, a Houston-based subsidiary of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc., said it supports ending the contract.

“It is important this process is independent and without conflict,” spokesman Ryan Duffy said. “We, too, are investigating what may have happened in the contracting process.”

The work by DNV GL was supposed to help Michigan determine the future of Line 5. Another contractor, Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, is studying alternatives to the pipeline in the straits area, which connects lakes Huron and Michigan.

Dynamic Risk Assessment will present its findings to the public on July 6 at Holt High School.

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