Lansing, MI – Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) voted unanimously today to recommend that the State of Michigan contract a team of academic experts to complete a risk analysis study on Enbridge’s 64-year-old Line 5 pipeline, which runs through the Straits of Mackinac. The state terminated the risk analysis in June after the original contractor – Det Norte Veritas (DNV) – had a conflict of interest because of ongoing work with Enbridge.
“This is a positive step in getting the state the actionable information it needs to decommission Line 5,” said Mike Shriberg, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, and a member of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board. “Engaging top academic minds will ensure that Michigan’s residents and resources will be prioritized.”
The academic review panel will be led by Dr. Guy Meadows, Director of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University and a current member of the PSAB. He said he would contact other Michigan universities – including the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University – to round out the team with research experts in multiple disciplines required to complete the study. Dr. Meadows will resign from the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board to avoid a conflict of interest.
The risk analysis was one of two studies commissioned by the state to gauge the risk of and potential alternatives to Line 5, which was built in 1953. The alternatives analysis, performed by Dynamic Risk, was roundly criticized for failing to consider a worst-case spill scenario, failing to consider relevant alternatives, and failing to adequately consider the risk to Michigan’s economy and ecology.
In late August, Enbridge acknowledged that multiple sections of bare metal were exposed on the twin pipelines, likely a result of human error from previous anchor installations, after telling the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board earlier this year that there were no sections of bare metal or “holidays”, sections of missing coating.
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