Enbridge moves forward with update of pipeline in eastern Michigan

MARYSVILLE, Mich. (AP) — A natural gas distribution company is preparing to replace a pipeline that runs underneath a river in eastern Michigan.

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline cuts through Marysville and the St. Clair River, The Times Herald reported Sunday.

The company is working to secure the proper state and federal permits for the project, said Paul Meneghini, a senior manager at Enbridge. The line crosses the U.S.-Canadian border so the company must also acquire Canadian permits.

“All dependent on permitting,” he said. “But the intent is to move forward as soon as we can, as practical as we can once all the permits are in hand.”

The work is expected to take about two months to complete.

Activists and officials across the state have been calling for the line’s decommissioning amid concerns of its condition. The company has seen nothing to spark concern about the line’s integrity, Meneghini said.

Kellie Randolph lives near the pipeline. She said her family is concerned about the project’s timeline.

“We were concerned about safety and are still concerned about safety,” she said. “Just the concern that it’s a pipeline and I don’t know what’s going to happen with that.”

Workers will use a drill to tunnel underneath the river for the new pipe. The new pipe will be connected to the existing system on the Canadian side.

The current pipeline was laid in 1953 and is 4 to 15 feet (1.22 to 4.57 meters) below the river, Meneghini said. The replacement line will be 30 feet (9.14 meters) or more below the bottom of the river.

In 2016, Enbridge Energy Partners reached a $176 million settlement for the costliest inland oil spill in U.S. history — a pipeline rupture in southwestern Michigan that polluted a nearly 40-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River.

The agreement between U.S. government agencies and the Canadian company concluded years of negotiations following the release of an estimated 843,000 gallons of heavy crude into the river in July 2010.

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