The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Enbridge to request Line 5 permits


February 8, 2020


Duluth, Minn. — Enbridge, Inc. announced Friday it has identified a preferred route for its proposed Line 5 Wisconsin Segment Relocation Project and is submitting permitting applications.

Enbridge, a multinational energy transportation company based in Calgary, has reviewed several alternative routes for a segment of the Line 5 petroleum and liquid natural gas pipeline, said Jennifer Smith, manager of community engagement and public affairs during a phone conference. The reroute is to replace a 12 mile segment through the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation, which notified Enbridge in August that easement agreements with the company would be allowed to expire.

“Enbridge has started to notify elected officials and landowners about the evaluation and that it has identified a 40 mile study corridor in Ashland and Iron counties,” Smith said. “Since that time and through our consultation with landowners and communities we’ve identified a proposed route that we believe best balances the impact to protected environments and the impacted communities.”

Enbridge initiated the regulatory and permitting process by submitting a joint application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Friday, she said. The process also involves an application with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for a determination of public need, she said.

As a part of the reroute project the emergency response department of Endridge will identify control points and access points along the new route. The field emergency response plans will be integrated into the reroute plan.

“The preferred route that we are proposing for permitting at this time goes north of Mellen,” said Cathryn Hanson, supervisor of environment and major projects for Enbridge.

The evaluation of potential routes included several alternatives including one outside the WDNR designated sub-watersheds having surface flow connectivity into the Bad River Band Reservation, she said. The analysis focused on finding the most practical line length with attention to protecting critical resources and being responsive to landowners and community input, she said.

A DNR Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be required with the process, she said. This will include public meetings and comment periods in the process, she said.

“Altogether, we anticipate the internal review and the permitting period should take about a year to complete,” Hanson said.

Endridge officials spoke to landowners and communities about options on all of the proposed routes, she said. Endridge will reach out again to the landowners about securing final easements along the preferred route, she said.

“At this point I think that we’re very confident that we’ve chosen a route where we’ll be able to secure 100% of the easements,” Hanson said.

The Line 5 Wisconsin Segment runs a straight line west to east from its terminal in Superior, Wisconsin to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The reroute would form a “U” shape under the Bad River reservation going south to just north of Mellen before coming back up to meet the original line.

“Line 5 is a critical piece of energy infrastructure,” Smith said.

The Line 5 underground pipeline has been in operation since 1953, she said. Line 5 moves a daily average capacity of 540,000 barrels of light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquid from Superior across Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Just to be clear this is not an expansion project; the driver here is to relocate the center line of the pipe,” said Adam Erickson, manager of mainline services and major projects execution for Enbridge. The reroute will include minor work to a pump station in Iron County, which includes adding remotely operated shut-off valves at strategic locations. The work will utilize “dry-crossing” methods for streams and rivers.

“In some cases we will be using horizontal directional drilling to install the line under sensitive resources such as the Bad River,” Erickson said.

The total workforce at the peak project period will be around 700 workers, he said. The anticipated construction costs are still being calculated.

Paul Eberth, director of U.S. Tribal Engagement, and public affairs and communications, said the majority of easements going through the Bad River reservation are still valid and some extend to 2043. The permits in question are about three miles of the 12 mile reservation crossing, he said.

“We remain open to working with the tribe to find a solution to the expired easements,” Eberth said. “That solution could be renewal or for the planned decommission of the expired easements of Line 5 following the completion of the reroute work.”

A solution about how and when to decommission the existing Line 5 across the reservation has not been determined, he said.

“We are actively and aggressively pursuing this reroute project so that we can decommission Line 5 across the reservation as soon as possible,” Eberth said.

Enbridge is in constant communication with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa staff as is required to perform necessary maintenance to ensure ongoing safe operation, he said. Current repairs that the band has permitted include the Bad River crossing and a section where erosion has exposed some pipeline.

Enbridge is hosting three open house events regarding the proposed re-route.

The first will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Iron County Memorial Building, 201 Iron Street in Hurley.

The second will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Mellen Fire and Rescue Department, 124 Wilderness Drive, Mellen.

The third will be a presentation from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at Presentation Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Highway G, Ashland.

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