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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —Today, on behalf of Sault Tribe and its board of directors, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment repeated the tribe’s longstanding calls to shut down Line 5.

“Enbridge shut off the oil flow in the line at the Straits Saturday in response to its discovery of damage to an anchor support,” Payment said. “This damage follows on the heels of last month’s discovery of damage to the pipeline coating. It’s past time this old line was shut off for good.”

The twin pipes at the straits, installed in 1953, were designed to rest on the bottom of the lakebed at the straits crossing. Terms of the bottomlands easement with the state of Michigan require that any unsupported spans be less than 75 feet in length. Under scrutiny in recent years, it has come to light that many unsupported spans exceeding that length have existed throughout the pipe’s history, and it is possible that the pipe never met the easement terms.

“Enbridge keeps installing these screw anchors, 20 or 40 at a time, which are a complete redesign of the pipeline system without any overall examination and public approval of this new design,” Payment said. “The Sault Tribe has strongly objected to this short cut of regulations and now we see the fault in it. No one had a chance to examine expert evidence predicting how these anchors could fail.”

Sault Tribe has called on any government to permanently stop the flow of oil in these lines since February 2015. For more than 5 years the tribe has asked the state of Michigan to end this threat to the treaty fishery in these waters. Governor Whitmer said Enbridge must proceed with caution. Payment said, “That is not good enough. Enbridge must stop threatening our treaty fishery, our livelihoods, Pure Michigan and our state’s tourism economy. Enbridge must stop pumping oil through the Straits.”

The chairperson added, “Governor Whitmer, you carry an immense burden to protect this priceless treasure. The tribes are asking yet again. Do not wait until it is too late. Shut down Line 5.”

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY