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Ingham Co. judge order Line 5 to cease operations

The Court of Appeals vacancy will be created by the departure of Judge Charles D. Susano Jr. / (MGN)
The Court of Appeals vacancy will be created by the departure of Judge Charles D. Susano Jr. / (MGN)(WVLT)
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 2:05 PM EDT
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Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James S. Jamo has granted Attorney General Dana Nessel's motion for a temporary restraining order requiring Enbridge Energy to "cease all transport operations of its Line 5 twin pipelines," according to a news release.

The pipelines carry crude oil and liquid natural gas in the Straits of Mackinac.

In addition to ceasing operations, Judge Jamo ordered Enbridge must release the information it has related to the recent damage caused to the pipeline's eastern segment.

Back on Monday, AG Nessel filed

for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Monday after Enbridge reported significant damage to an anchor on the east leg of the Line 5 pipelines, the news release states.

the court granted AG Nessel's request and ordered that the east line of the pipeline remained shut down and the west line, which is currently operating, be shut down as soon as possible, however no later than 24 hours of receipt of the court's order.

"Both lines are to remain closed until the hearing on the AG's motion for preliminary injunction is held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30," the release states.

“Enbridge has failed to provide the State with information about the cause of this significant development involving Line 5, and so I’m very grateful for the Court’s decision today,” Nessel said in a press release. “While the fact that Enbridge reactivated one of the lines before consulting with the State is concerning, the fact that the company has failed to disclose the cause of this damage is equally alarming, considering the impact a breach in the pipeline could have to our state residents and economy. With the continued operation of this pipeline, the risk of severe and lasting environmental damage to Michigan’s most important natural resource continues to grow every day. However, this ruling, while significant, is only a short-term fix. If the lines are put back into operation, one mismanaged incident or accident would result in a historic catastrophe for our state. Work must continue toward complete removal of Line 5 from our waters.”

The court also acknowledged the 1953 Easement Agreement between the state of Michigan and Enbridge required Enbridge "to exercise due care and operate the pipelines as a reasonably prudent person would," according to the release.

Additionally, the court noted a 2018 agreement between the state and Enbridge that requires Enbridge to share information related to the recent damage to the pipelines, per a request from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the release states.

In its order, the court said Enbridge's "failure to provide sufficient documentation to the state of Michigan related to the nature, extent and cause(s) of the newly-discovered damage to Line 5 and its supporting infrastructure has resulted in the state's inability to review or assess any risk of harm arising from the identified damage."

The damage to the pipeline was reported to state officials Thursday, June 18, but was provided without first providing the state with the opportunity to discuss it, the release states, leading the governor to send another letter to Enbridge requesting the pipeline be shut down immediately until the incident could be investigated and preventive measures could be put into place.

The news release said the company gave a brief summary of the damage to the state on Monday, "but left several critical questions unanswered including the cause of the damage."

You can view the full motion attached to this article.

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