Enbridge Pipelines is beginning a project to replace its Line 5 crude oil pipeline beneath the St. Clair River in the Sarnia area next week.

The segment replacement will be installed underneath the river bed using Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), a technique recognized as an industry best practice crossing method that minimizes environmental risk to waterbodies through construction and ongoing operation.

In addition to being among the least intrusive options available, HDD is the safest and most technically feasible means of installing the replacement segment of pipe deep below the river. This construction technique involves drilling a bore hole under the river and pulling the replacement pipe through from one side to the other.

The project will also include the installation of new remote-operated valves with continuous pressure monitoring on both sides of the river.

The first phase of work will involve preparing the area for construction activities. Work will occur on the Enbridge Pipeline right of way between the St. Clair Parkway and Virgil Ave. and along the south side of LaSalle Line adjacent to the Shell refinery. Site preparation will involve delivery and placement of wooden construction mats to serve as ground cover and support for arriving heavy equipment, work trailers and the replacement pipe, which will be stored onsite.

Offloading the mats and equipment will require the construction of a temporary access ramp off the south shoulder of LaSalle Line. Hours of work will typically be 07:00 to 19:00 hours and materials will be incoming for about two weeks.

There will be some impact to traffic flow on LaSalle Line and Enbridge and its subcontractors will take measures to ensure the safety of the public and road users by using flag people and traffic control signage to signal the presence of workers. Drivers are encouraged to slow down and be prepared for slow-moving vehicles.

Enbridge spokesperson Ken Hall says the company plans to start the horizontal directional drilling beneath the river in early March, and the project is scheduled to be completed by July.

“The replacement of Line 5 beneath the St. Clair River will further enhance the safety of a pipeline that provides essential delivery of energy feedstocks to Michigan and Ontario,” says Hall. “We will be making a safe pipeline even safer.”

As previously announced, in November 2017 Enbridge entered into an agreement with the State of Michigan to address the future of Line 5, a 1,038-kilometre, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that originates in Superior, Wisconsin, travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, and terminates in Sarnia, Ontario. The agreement features key actions Enbridge will undertake to enhance the overall safety of Line 5 and protect the waters of the Great Lakes, including replacement of the pipeline segment that crosses the U.S.-Canada border at the St. Clair River from Marysville, MI to Sarnia, ON.

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