PETOSKEY, Mich. — A
Canadian-based energy transportation company's preparation
of a proposed tunnel that would house a petroleum pipeline
caused a borehole to collapse in Michigan, which left
debris in the waterway.
Enbridge Energy had been
collecting rock and soil samples, which it finished Sept.
12 the Petosky News-Review reported. But the company did
not report the incident to Michigan Department of
Environment, Great Lakes and Energy until Nov. 19,
according to documents obtained by the newspaper.
The collapse also caused a
long piece of drill rod to become lodged beneath the lake
bed, and a piece of the equipment to fall on top of the
The tunnel would enclose
the Straits of Mackinac's portion of the 66-year-old
pipeline, which is also known as Enbridge Line 5. It runs
from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Ryan Duffy, Enbridge
spokesman, said the two-months span between the date of
the incident and the report were spent determining the
best way forward. And now, the company won't be able to
retrieve the debris until at least spring 2020.
"We were evaluating
ways to go down and get it, and looking at the best way to
go forward," Duffy said. “We hoped to do it this
season, this year, but it became unsafe with the change in
the weather. It would be a dive operation that would be
high risk in the cold weather, so we're just going to
retrieve it in the spring.”
Duffy added that the debris
does not pose any inherent safety or environmental risk.
But the presence of the debris means that Enbridge is in
violation of their boring permit under the Natural
Resources Environmental Protection Act.
“The crew had some
difficulties retrieving (the rod), so ... the crew and
Enbridge made the decision to lean the rod on the lake
bottom until it can be retrieved in the spring, and it
doesn't pose a threat of interfering with traffic or
anything like that.”
Joseph Haas, Gaylord
District Supervisor for EGLE's Water Division, said the
company did not break any rules by waiting to file their
initial report. But he adds that the department would
liked to have known as soon as it happened.
Opponents of the aging
pipeline claim that the line poses an imminent risk of
Studies suggest that the
tunnel would prevent threats to the pipeline's
infrastructure and shield the water from oil in the event
of rupture, but opponents of the aging pipeline claim that
it poses an imminent risk of rupture.
Jennifer McKay, of Tip of
the Mitt Watershed Council, has called for the pipeline to
be shutdown. She said the incident offers reinforces that
the Straits is not a suitable location for the pipeline.
"How can the public be
confident that there will not be any additional collapses
or problems during drilling of a tunnel if Enbridge
can’t even bore a hole without it collapsing?" she
said in a statement.