Enbridge hopes to start work as soon as possible on a $500 million, 6.4 kilometre tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac to replace its controversial Line 5 pipeline.
The Calgary-based company received unanimous approval from the three-member Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority this week.
Enbridge Senior Community Engagement Strategist Ken Hall said the investment is being made to address the concerns of Michigan residents about the safety of the existing line.
Line 5, which carries oil and natural gas liquids between Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia, is 65 years old.
The line will be replaced inside a tunnel buried 100 feet below the lakebed under the channel linking Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
Hall said the chances of a product release will be reduced to near zero.
“We carry approximately 65 per cent of the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) products that are converted into propane,” said Hall. “That fuel source heats the homes in the Upper Peninsula. About 1.5-million people are using products directly coming out of Line 5 for home heating fuel. In addition to that, the line also provides feedstocks into a facility in Detroit and delivers product into the Sarnia area as well.”
Work on the tunnel is to be complete by 2024.
Hall said they’re also starting work late next year on the replacement of the existing Line 5 crossing under the St. Clair River at Sarnia with a new horizontal directional drill.
He expects that to create work for local tradespeople.
Enbridge will also fund cameras for the coast guard to monitor ships entering the straits of Mackinac, and will shut down Line 5 in the straits during adverse weather.
-With files from Dave Dentinger