Official says Michigan's Line 5 pipeline doesn't pose high spill risk

The path of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline in Michigan.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The federal government’s top pipeline regulator says his agency is keeping tabs on dual lines in a crucial Michigan waterway but believes they have a low risk of failure.

Howard “Skip” Elliott of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration testified Monday in a Traverse City hearing convened by Michigan Sen. Gary Peters.

The hearing focused on a segment of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 that carries oil across the Straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.

Elliott said the dual pipelines in the straits have walls three times thicker than another Enbridge line that ruptured in 2010 in southern Michigan, leaking around 1 million gallons.

He also said dents caused by an April anchor strike don’t appear to present a threat.

Peters described the anchor strike as a “nightmare scenario” that could have caused a catastrophic spill.