Enbridge’s Line 5 Straits of Mackinac crossing has never experienced a leak in more than 65 years of operation. We’re working hard to keep it that way, and one of our primary strategies is to harness, adapt and advance commercially available technology in the interest of safety.
Enbridge is making a $500-million private investment in Michigan to build the Great Lakes Tunnel, deep under the Straits of Mackinac, to house Line 5. While Line 5 has operated safely and reliably in the Straits for more than 65 years, through a suite of preventative measures, the Great Lakes Tunnel will be bored through rock, as much as 100 feet below the lakebed—virtually eliminating the chance of a pipeline incident in the Straits.
The Great Lakes Tunnel is a massive undertaking. It will be built by Michigan labor, and harness the knowledge and experience of industry-leading tunnel engineers. And while work goes on underground, we’re harnessing technology by adding a trio of extra safeguards at the Straits—which will further reduce the risk of an anchor strike in the interim.
A sophisticated communications system identifies shipping vessels and reminds them of the no-anchor zone in the Straits. Hi-res cameras will monitor ship traffic around the clock, acting as an early-warning network. And, during the open-water season, two support vessels now patrol the Straits 24/7, using infrared technology to confirm all large ship anchors are stowed.
Enbridge has also worked with Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center to test and enhance an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that maps the bottom of the Straits near the Line 5 crossing using sonar imaging. The data collected by the AUV is used to verify information collected by our inline inspection tools, and identify and remedy any potential issues.
Keeping a watchful eye with human and automated resources.