TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. >> Michigan officials and Enbridge Inc. have set a deadline of Aug. 15, 2018, to determine the future of twin oil pipelines beneath the waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge.
The date is part of an agreement announced today amid rising concerns about the safety of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends across northern Wisconsin and Michigan on its way to Sarnia, Ontario. A 5-mile segment rests on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
Valerie Brader of the Michigan Agency for Energy says if the two sides can’t agree by the deadline, the state will “take another path” that could include shutting down the line.
But she said the state will consider other alternatives, including routing the underwater segment through a tunnel. Enbridge will evaluate three tunnel options by next June.
The deal includes a requirement that Line 5 be shut down temporarily during storms that cause high waves in the Straits of Mackinac for an hour or longer.
It also requires a study of long-term safety options, including placing the existing pipelines or a new one in a tunnel beneath the straits, instead of leaving them on the lakebed.
It also calls for steps to allow faster detection of and quicker response to a potential spill.
State officials have raised increasing concerns about the safety of the pipelines, which were laid in 1953.