Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board frustrated with Enbridge's rhetoric on Line 5
LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) --- The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board dropped the hammer on Enbridge Monday.
Disturbed and uncomfortable were some of the words board members used as they expressed their frustrations about how they say the oil company didn't give them accurate information about the condition of Line 5.
Enbridge first told the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board that the gaps in Line 5's protective coating were as big as a band aid, but the board says they found the gaps were much larger.
Board members said Enbridge didn't tell them the truth and now some are asking, "what is the story going to be next."
"We were even more alarmed when it came back that there were not three gaps, but actually five," said Melody Kindraka, the public information officer for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Enbridge says it's updating the state as the company gets new information.
"The key is there isn't any safety issue of the pipeline," said Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy. "The steel itself is still in good shape. There's no rust, there's no corrosion, there's no metal loss."
The Michigan DEQ says it's not concerned about the integrity of the pipeline.
"What we are mostly concerned about is Enbridge's operation of it," Kindraka said. "Why weren't these gaps identified earlier, why weren't these gaps fixed earlier, do they have the proper operations in place to keep everything safe."
"We aren't downplaying it," Duffy said. "We are taking it seriously and that's why we are ready to go ahead and make the repairs."
The board took action on Monday, voting to encourage the state to conduct a new risk analysis on Enbridge's underwater pipeline near the Mackinac Bridge..
"It's going to be a very large task," said board member Dr. Guy Meadows.
Meadows is is the man who will likely conduct the study.
"Have you done work for Enbridge before?" asked Political Reporter Nick Minock.
"We have," replied Meadows.
"You have, so is there a conflict of interest with you doing this study?" asked Minock.
"I don't believe there is," said Meadows. "If there's a conflict, I think it's for you to decide."
Meadows has personally worked on four contracts for Enbridge.
The DEQ says it hopes Meadows will complete the new risk analysis in six months, so the state can decide the fate of Line 5.
"We will definitely be pursuing a contract," Kindraka said. "Dr. Meadows is a member of the board and the board unanimously recommend him. The board seems to think there isn't any sort of conflict of interest and hopefully we can maintain that."
Last summer the state threw out an ongoing risk analysis of the pipeline due to a conflict of interest.
We'll let you know if the state signs a contract with Dr. Meadows.