Additional safety measures will reduce anchor-strike risk in the Straits of Mackinac

Trio of extra safeguards will be in place while Line 5 underground tunnel is built

As Enbridge’s Line 5 Straits of Mackinac underground tunnel project moves ahead, we’re taking extra precautions above the lakebed, as well.

Last week, Enbridge announced that we’re adding a trio of extra safeguards at the Straits to further reduce the risk of an anchor strike on our dual Line 5 pipelines while work continues on our $500-million tunnel project.

The three safety measures—the cost of which, like the tunnel, will be borne by Enbridge—were announced by President and Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco last week during a presentation to the Canada-United States Business Association (CUSBA) in Detroit.

The measures include:

  • A communication and monitoring system, as previously committed, which identifies approaching shipping vessels and reminds them of the no-anchor zone in the Straits.
  • High-resolution cameras, placed on either shore to the west of the Mackinac Bridge, that will monitor ship traffic around the clock and act as an early-warning and notification system.
  • Two support vessels, which have been on the water since mid-October, that monitor Straits traffic and confirm ship anchors are stowed.

“The prime example of how seriously we take this crossing, and the environment, and the Great Lakes, is the Line 5 tunnel,” Mr. Monaco told a CUSBA audience. “Still, we continue to add more measures, to reduce risk further, until and while the tunnel is being built . . . again, no cost to Michigan taxpayers.”

Enbridge’s Line 5 Straits tunnel project will see the light crude and natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline housed in a concrete-walled tunnel buried 100 feet below the lakebed.

In preparation for drilling, a geotechnical program is currently ongoing in the Straits, with rock and sediment sampling. Enbridge proposes to begin construction in 2021 and place the new Line 5 into service in 2024, assuming there are no delays in the permitting process.

“We are committed to getting this tunnel built,” Mr. Monaco told his CUSBA audience. “We will replace the pipelines at the bottom of the Straits, and we will do it as quickly and as safely as possible. And, frankly, we’d like that to be in partnership with the State.”

(TOP PHOTO: One of the new Straits of Mackinac safety measures being introduced by Enbridge, to minimize the risk of an anchor strike, is a communication and monitoring system identifying approaching shipping vessels and reminding them of the no-anchor zone in the Straits.)