Senator Peters holds field hearing questioning Line 5 and oil spill prevention
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- It was standing room only inside the Dennos Museum in Traverse City, where Senator Peters held a field hearing on oil spill prevention Monday morning.
The center of discussion, Enbridge's 65-year-old pipeline, running through the Straits of Mackinac.
Sen. Peters questioned members of the panel regarding April 1, 2018 when a boat anchor severed a utility line and gouged line 5 in the straits.
Enbridge was asked why it took several days to temporarily shut the pipeline down.
"We’ve been involved in PHMSA and the USCG Unified Command because it was part of an active investigation," David Bryson, Enbridge's vice president of operations. "We have been gathering all of our information and trying to make sure our line is safe. That’s where our focus has been and we believe we have been providing information as required."
Sen. Peters also asked the administrator of the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration about the process it takes to shut down a pipeline.
Howard Elliot was booed when he said the administration depends on data and testing from Enbridge engineers, and then have their engineers look over the data.
"If we do find a situation that is severe and critical enough, we would not hesitate to use our ability to force a pipeline operator to seize operations," said Elliot.
After weeks of not knowing how bad the damage was on Line 5 from the anchor strike, Sen. Peters says he and Michiganders lost trust with Enbridge, but got their word that the company will be more transparent.
On behalf of Enbridge, Bryson agreed to reveal video and images of the damage from the anchor strike.
After the hearing Enbridge released a statement saying:
"Safety and the prevention of incidents are at the forefront of our pipeline operations, which include Line 5 in the Straits. Our safety measures include a 24-hour control center that monitors all of our lines and can initiate a shutdown in minutes, automatic shut-off valves that would contain a release and well-trained, local personnel with emergency response equipment. "
Also on the panel, the owner of one of Michigan's most well known businesses, Bell's Brewery.
Larry Bell says water is the main ingredient for his product, and if people thought beer was being brewed with contaminated water, his sales would suffer. He also mentioned the amount of tourism The Great Lakes draws, and how it would decline if Michigan lost it's most precious treasure.
“After the most expensive pipeline break in history on land on the Kalamazoo River, Michiganders know better than anyone else what happens when a pipeline fails,” said Sen. Peters.
Many comments and questions made during the hearing were submitted from the community. The hearing record will be open for several days for anyone who would like to submit comments or questions.