Enbridge Briefly Shut Down Line 5 After Protesters Tampered with Pipeline

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) — Enbridge Inc. shut down its Line 5 oil pipeline for several hours on Tuesday after protesters trespassed onto a facility in Michigan and tampered with the pipeline, an Enbridge spokesman said on Wednesday.

Line 5 ships around 540,000 barrels per day of crude and refined products from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. Spokesman Ryan Duffy said the line was back up and running and Enbridge did not anticipate any impact on deliveries to customers.

Environmental campaigners said a protester had turned a safety valve on the pipeline.

"The water protector called Enbridge so that they could safely halt the flow of oil before reading a statement and turning the valve to halt the operation of the pipeline," said an emailed statement from the Resist Line 3 Media Collective, which is also opposed to Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline.

Line 5 is a key part of Enbridge Mainline network, which delivers around 3 million barrels per day of western Canadian crude to refineries in the U.S. and eastern Canada.

The pipeline is at the center of a dispute between Calgary-based Enbridge and the state of Michigan, which in May ordered the company to stop operating the pipeline over concerns a section running underwater in the Straits of Mackinac could leak into the Great Lake. Enbridge ignored Michigan's order and the two sides are embroiled in a legal battle over Line 5's fate.

Earlier this month, the Canadian government, which has publicly sided with Enbridge, escalated the dispute by invoking a 1977 pipeline treaty with the United States to trigger bilateral negotiations over the pipeline.

Duffy said Enbridge would seek the prosecution of all those involved in Tuesday's protest.

"The actions taken to unlawfully trespass on our facility in Michigan and attempt to tamper with energy infrastructure was reckless and dangerous," Duffy said. 

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