Enbridge prepping to replace pipeline under St. Clair River

Enbridge Sarnia (Photo By Melanie Irwin)

Enbridge crews are doing preparation work this week, as the company moves to replace a section of its Line 5 pipeline running beneath the St. Clair River.

The 65-year-old line that delivers Canadian crude oil to Michigan and Ontario, crosses the U.S. Canada border at the St. Clair River from Marysville to Sarnia.

It’s a 1,000 kilometre-long line stretching from Sarnia all the way to Superior, Wisconsin.

The first phase of the project involves getting the area ready for construction activities.

Spokesman Ken Hall said the work will take place at their pipeline right-of-way, between St. Clair Parkway and Virgil Ave., and along the south side of Lasalle Line adjacent to the Shell refinery.

“We’re going to place construction mats on our easement, and along the side of Lasalle Line where we’ll be stringing the pipe,” said Hall. “Once that’s done, we’ll bring the pipe in and we’ll be welding it all in place. It’s a long string of pipe that we’ll then prepare to pull back to the American side. So, in the next couple of weeks, you’ll see trucks coming in and flatbeds bringing the mats and cranes. There will also be more pick up trucks as our workers start to assemble and weld the pipe.”

Hall said there will be 50 to 60 workers on the Canadian shoreline over the next couple of weeks.

He said there will be a temporary access ramp off the south shoulder of Lasalle Line. Restrictions will typically be in place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily for about two weeks.

Drivers are encouraged to slow down and be prepared for slow-moving vehicles.

Enbridge plans to start horizontal directional drilling under the river in early March, which will bury the pipeline even deeper than before. The project, estimated to cost $20 million, is scheduled to be completed by July.

Controversial plans for a new pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, also part of Line 5, is being challenged in court in Michigan.