Energy company: Broken rod in Great Lakes poses no risk

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) — An energy company sees no reason to remove a narrow 270-foot (82.3 meter) rod from the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan, telling regulators that it poses no risk to the Great Lakes while embedded in the lake bottom.

Enbridge Inc. also used the letter to try to clear up any confusion about the length of the rod.

The rod became stuck in September when it was used to fill a hole with grout. A contractor then broke the rod, which left a 45 foot (13.7 meter) segment on the lake bottom and the remainder in the hole. The shorter piece was recovered in December.

Enbridge sent a letter Monday to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, days after Joseph Haas, a supervisor in the department’s Gaylord office, expressed surprise to the Detroit Free Press about the size of the remaining rod.

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“At no point did Enbridge believe that the length of rod remaining in the borehole was only 40 feet nor did anyone at Enbridge intend to report as much,” wrote Paul Turner, an Enbridge environmental specialist.

Nonetheless, he added, “we are sorry for any role we may have had in any confusion related to this issue.”

The rod was part of a project last summer. Enbridge was performing geotechnical work as part of a plan to eventually replace its Line 5 pipeline with one protected by a tunnel.

“At this time there is no segment of the rod that protrudes above the lakebed,” Turner wrote. “Further, we believe that the presence of the rod in the borehole does not give rise to any environmental or other risk, either short-term or long-term. The borehole has effectively been plugged by the sediment around the hole.”

Messages seeking comment Wednesday were sent to the state environment department, known as EGLE.

Line 5 carries crude oil and natural gas liquids used to make propane. The underground line runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. The Straits of Mackinac segment is divided into two adjacent pipes. The Straits connect lakes Michigan and Huron.

Critics fear a spill and want Line 5 to be permanently shut down.

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