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Enbridge says demonstration to shut down Line 5 was “criminal activity”

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Up Hell's Creek Camp
A demonstrator turns a valve at an exposed portion of Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline Tuesday in a video posted to Facebook.

Enbridge Energy said it temporarily shut down its Line 5 oil pipeline in Northern Michigan Tuesday morning after a group of demonstrators called its control center, asked the company to shut down the line, and said they would manually turn off the flow of oil using a shutoff valve.

An Enbridge spokesperson said the line reopened Tuesday evening.

Video posted to Facebook by a group called Up Hell’s Creek Camp – which did not respond to messages seeking comment – showed a person crawling under a fence around an exposed portion of the line and turning a valve with a plumbing wrench.

The post said the video was taken near the small city of Vassar, about 20 miles east of Saginaw.

Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy confirmed the video showed the events that led it to turn off the flow of oil.

Duffy said Enbridge shut down the line “out of an abundance of caution.”

The demonstrators said the Canadian energy company is operating the pipeline illegally.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said the company is trespassing after she ordered it to stop pumping oil under the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge has not stopped. The company is locked in a court battle with the state, and the dispute has led Canada to invoke a decades-old treaty to force negotiation with the U.S. federal government.

In a statement, Duffy said the company respects people’s rights to express their views, but the demonstration “was not a lawful protest.”

“The groups involved in today’s incident claim to be protecting the environment, but they do the opposite and put the safety of people at risk – including themselves, first responders and neighboring communities and landowners,” Duffy said.

The company called the demonstration “criminal activity.”

“We take this very seriously and will support the prosecution of all those involved,” Duffy said.